Monday, February 2, 2009

Moriarty and seeking asylum in Ireland

Things are getting very interesting with the Moriarty Tribunal which has spent over a decade investigating the award of the state's second mobile phone license to Denis O'Brien's Esat consortium. It's difficult to get people interested in this but it is going to be a huge story later this year. We've already reported that the provisional findings are critical of the civil servants involved in the award of the license.

John Burns has done a good review of some of the key evidence here. Basically a lot of people's reputations are on the line now.

Legal restrictions prohibit us from going in to the details of the provisional findings although it seems a lot of this will finally be aired later this month as new hearings will be held for new witnesses. Other witnesses will be recalled to clarify evidence already given.

Last Friday the tribunal called journalists and other parties shortly before 10am to say they were having a brief hearing to serve a summons on Christopher Vaughan, an English solicitor. I got the call at 9.55, hopped on my bike and was in the tribunal room by 10.01. Other journalists did make it down as well. See Colm Keena's report in the Irish Times. The net effect of this hearing was that we learned that Mr Vaughan will be one of a number of witnesses who will be appearing down at Dublin Castle in the next few weeks. It seems various parties are scrambling to have new evidence heard which they hope will have an affect on the provisional findings that Justice Moriarty has issued already.

Alan Dukes may be one of these witnesses if some civil servants who want his recall get their way.

On a different subject.... a case that has got a lot of attention as it trundles through the courts system is that of Pamela Izevbekhai from Nigeria . She is is seeking asylum for herself and her two daughters. Asylum law is one area where public and media pressure can have a huge role in influencing the outcome as Justice Ministers have the final say. As Izevbekhai is receiving such positive media coverage in general we tried to look at her case from a different/cynical point of view.

Every couple of years there seems to be high profile deportation case that grabs public attention. Great Agbonlahor, the autistic Nigerian boy, was deported despite legal action and widespread media support. Before that Kunle Elunkanlo was deported but Michael McDowell did a U-turn and he is now back in Ireland and working for SuperValu.

The Nigerian ambassador spoke to me last week about the Izevbekhai case. The Nigerians are obviously enough frustrated at how Nigeria is being portrayed in the Izevbekhai case and the ambassador promised to investigate Izevbekhai's claims that her in-laws want to perform Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) on her daughters.

A quote from the ambassador that didn't make it in to print because of space constraints was an assertion that FGM is not a serious issue in Nigeria and is restricted to "primitive" areas. This goes against all the independent evidence as quoted in the larger piece we did that shows that nearly 60% of girls are subjected to this in some parts of Nigeria. Amnesty International, who are supporting Izevbekhai, have told me they want to meet with the ambassador to discuss her views on FGM and Izevbekhai. That should be an interesting meeting if it happens.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mark

    Any chance of an RSS feed option so this blog could be followed using Google Reader? It would make it far handier for readers who want to be kept updated with your posts. I'm not really sure how you go about it using Blogspot but Mick over at Irishcrimereporter has his set-up, maybe ask him. It might get you a few more followers as well.

    Your posts have made good reading so far.

    Kind Regards