If you have a few hours tomorrow morning and want to witness an unusual piece of performance art, why not go down to Court 4 at the High Court at 10.45am where NAMA will begin its case against the Information Commissioner – to be precise, the Office of the Commissioner for Environmental Information - who last year designated NAMA a “public authority” which was subject to environmental information requests. NAMA was unhappy with the ruling and will tomorrow commence its action at the High Court to have the ruling overturned. Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns is set to be the host for the performance as tens of thousands of euro – your euro – will be spent on the legal battle between two state agencies, the Information Commissioner who wants to promote transparency and NAMA who resists such efforts.
Up to now NAMA has hidden behind the confidentiality terms imposed on the Agency by the NAMA Act; “we’re sorry, we’d love to share that information with you, but alas the NAMA Act prevents us from so doing”. But now that the Information Commissioner has ruled that NAMA is subject to environmental information requests, the Agency seems eager to resist lawful adjudication, which might give us all a better insight into the workings of the Agency.
For some reason the Courts Service refuses to place details of the case on its website but the case reference is 2011 357 MCA. Journalist Gavin Sheridan is the crusader who succeeded last year in having the Information Commissioner, Emily O’Reilly adjudicate that NAMA was a public authority, and although he is not a party to these proceedings, no doubt he will keep us informed of the progress and outcome of the case on thestory.ie. Earlier this year, the NAMA CEO didn’t want to answer questions about the rationale for spending tens of thousands of taxpayers’ money to defend a transparency ruling by another state agency, saying that the matter was before the courts. I don’t think he will escape so lightly when the matter is next raised at official levels! There is background to the case on thestory.ie here and here.
UPDATE (1): 18th May, 2012. Gavin Sheridan from thestory.ie reports that the case was not heard yesterday, seemingly due to lack of time, but is set to be heard this morning, again in Court 4 at 10.45am. You can follow Gavin on Twitter here, and it is hoped there will be tweet updates throughout the case.
UPDATE (2): 18th May, 2012. Gavin Sheridan has tweeted to say the case has been put back “to the end of July” because a judge was not available today.