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Oireachtas lawyers ask for more time in Denis O'Brien case

Published 07/10/2015

Denis O'Brien launched the legal action after the committee found two TDs did not abuse parliamentary privilege in making allegations
Denis O'Brien launched the legal action after the committee found two TDs did not abuse parliamentary privilege in making allegations

Parliamentary lawyers have asked for more time to prepare their defence in a "very novel" case brought by billionaire businessman Denis O'Brien.

The legal action against the Oireachtas Committee for Procedure and Privileges (CPP) is "not straightforward", a barrister told Dublin's High Court.

The telecoms tycoon launched the legal action after the committee found Independent TD Catherine Murphy and Sinn Fein TD Pearse Doherty did not abuse parliamentary privilege in making allegations about him.

Ceann Comhairle, or house speaker, Sean Barrett and the government's chief legal adviser, Attorney General Marie Whelan, have also been named in the action.

Before the High Court, Eileen Barrington SC, for Mr O'Brien, said lawyers for the Oireachtas should have handed over their defence to the businessman's legal team by September 21.

A one-day extension was agreed but on September 22 the defence said it needed further time and it would deliver its case as soon as possible, she told the hearing.

There was an agreement between the teams to grant a further two weeks.

But Conor Power SC, for the Oireachtas, has said his team needs at least another three weeks.

The case taken by Mr O'Brien is "a very novel one" and there are "two other limbs of government involved", he said, referring to the Oireachtas and a pending case before the courts.

Mr Power added there were "various actors under this umbrella who wanted to have an input" in the case.

"It's not a straightforward issue," he said.

Angela Denning, deputy master of the High Court, ordered the defence to hand its case to Mr O'Brien's lawyers by October 28 and put the case back for three weeks.

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