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Esat Licence Award Challenged In Supreme Court

Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, together with fellow Supreme Court justices have given reasons for granting, businessman Declan Ganley’s Comcast International Holdings Inc and Persona Digital Telephony Ltd, leave to proceed with actions challenging the manner in which the State’s second mobile phone licence was allocated in 1995, to Esat Digifone.

Mr Hardiman stated it would be a “disgrace to the nation and the State” if it were proven that there was any corruption at the highest level of Government, in the awarding of a mobile phone licence to Esat Digifone.

Six bidders, back in 1995, competed for Ireland’s second mobile phone licence, which eventually businessman Denis O’Brien’s firm was awarded.

The leave granted allege fraud, conspiracy, deceit, corruption and misfeasance in public office in relation to the granting of this same licence.

Comcast’s action is being taken against the Minister for Public Enterprise, former Minister and current North Tipperary Independent TD Mr Michael Lowry, Esat Telecom, Mr Denis O’Brien, Ireland, and the Attorney General. Persona on the other hand are taking their case against the Minister for Public Enterprise, Ireland and the Attorney General.

Mr Justice Hardiman stated that the integrity and reputation of Ireland, together with the rights of Persona & Comcast, required to be heard, regarding accusations of covert, devious and concealed corruption.

These actions, which had been taken first back in 2001, now challenge the awarding of this licence while also claiming millions in financial damages.   The State previously secured, in 2007, through the High Court, orders which halted such cases against the former, on grounds of inordinate and inexcusable delay, however on Wednesday last the Supreme Courts ruled that this delay was excusable, on grounds that both companies were within their rights to await the full result of the long drawn out 13-year old Moriarty Tribunal, latter which probed into the granting of same licence.

According to RTE the former Communications Minister Mr Michael Lowry has welcomed this Supreme Court decision, saying a court of law is the proper forum to critically probe this 1995 mobile licence award process.

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