Tribunals are ‘scrums’ of lawyers and never seem to end – Charleton

From Irish Independent 22nd. July 2019 – by Kevin Doyle GROUP POLITICAL EDITOR

Thirty-five people who appeared before the Disclosures Tribunal were afforded the same legal rights as if they were accused of murder, the judge who oversaw the inquiry has revealed.
Mr Justice Peter Charleton has suggested more trust needs to be put in people asked to head up tribunals and less time afforded to barristers hired by witnesses.
Delivering the John Hume Lecture at the Glenties Summer School, Mr Justice Charleton called for the structure of tribunals to be “rebalanced so that the community also had rights”.
“Participants’ rights need to be seen within a context of the undoubted necessity that arises in stark form that what is behind national scandals be uncovered and sorted out quickly,” he said.
“Our response has been to heap procedural right on procedural right in such a way as to make the functioning of tribunals close to impossible.
“But surely a better approach is to trust the tribunal to actually do the inquiring; to turn the model from that of a criminal trial to one where counsel for the tribunal does the examination; where the key parties have the right only to legal advice; and where the impulse to resort to judicial review and delay is dissolved by the simplicity of that procedure.”
The Supreme Court judge, who ruled over the inquiry into the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe, said anybody who walks into a tribunal “will see a huge room mostly populated by barristers and solicitors”.
Addressing the audience, he said: “You might like to guess how many people had full accused-of-murder rights before the Disclosures Tribunal finished in June 2018.
“There were all of 35 of them. This means that the tribunal is dealing with a scrum.”
He said the terms of reference for a tribunal are “drafted at times of political turmoil”.
“As in the Beef Tribunal, where not only the Goodman Empire was to be investigated, but a catch-all was added about the entire beef industry. Similar clauses abound elsewhere, so tribunals never seem to finish.”

5 Responses to Tribunals are ‘scrums’ of lawyers and never seem to end – Charleton

  1. Eugene July 22, 2019 at 10:32 pm #

    Tribunals?, yes they have cost the Irish Taxpayer a fair lot of money down the years. Was there ever any need for any one of them?, I doubt it. A Juge is normally put in Charge of a Tribunal, sometimes it was a Retired Judge who was already on a big pension, and was now heading onto an almighty Gravytrain that was going to go on for years.
    I remember that Flood Tribunal, I think it started with Haughey, now that went on so long that Flood Retired and then it was named after some other Judge, -His name eludes me now, anyway the whole thing went on for years and cost Us several Millions, and made Millionares out of Barristers, many of whom would hardly ever be heard of only for this. At the end of the day what came out of it, very little but a lot of wealthy Lawyers.
    Fast forward with several more of the same, and exactly the same occurred , more Lawyers became more wealthy, a few Judges, or Retired Judges made more money for themselves, made themselves feel Very Important, and made decisions that would not stand up in any Court of Law.
    That is the Big Problem with Tribunals, Court Rules apparentlty do not count, assertions are made, and apparently cannot be challenged, stories are told that would not stand up in Law .
    I believe that if wrong is done then it should be investigated thoroughly, if the evidence is gathered and the DPP studies the case and makes a decision, then take the wrongdoers to Court, Have a trial, and Guilty or not Guilty.
    Tribunals are nothing more than Gravy trains and very costly for Paddy, who eventually ends up paying the Piper.

  2. timothy July 25, 2019 at 10:08 am #

    Tribunals are a necessary part of our democracy. This was never more apparent than in the Sergeant Mce McCabe case of a couple of years ago. This man would never have been vindicated except for the Charleton Enquiry.

  3. Eugene July 25, 2019 at 1:38 pm #

    I just wonder is Timothy really serious there? Tribunals , in my estimation are ” witch hunts” , most of the stuff that goes on there wouldn’t get inside the door of a Court. It appears that ” they” want everything investigated now that happened in the past, why?, it’s all about money.

  4. timothy July 26, 2019 at 3:08 pm #

    Eugene. It’s investigative rather than adversarial, which is good. Many EU countries have this which is the best way of investigating and finding the truth. Criminals here can always look at a fly on the wall and say nothing. That was ok in the dark days of oppression.

  5. Eugene July 26, 2019 at 7:34 pm #

    I do not wish to keep this going on, but there are some points there now that offends me. “Criminals here can look at a fly on the wall” , are you suggesting that Gardai that were caught up in Smithwick were Criminals, I served in Dundalk and I would beg to differ on that. Some of the Men caught up in the Donegal affair were to blame for nothing, and did not come out too good from it. Criminals are normally charged in Court, not hauled before Tribunals. No, I have no faith in them. Money making affairs.

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