A fresh round of public hearings of the Moriarty tribunal is expected to begin on Tuesday, almost a year after the tribunal last sat and nearly 12 years after it was established.
It is understood that an English solicitor, Christopher Vaughan, who acted in property transactions in Britain that are being examined by the tribunal, will be giving evidence. However, close observers say Vaughan will be just the first of a "raft" of witnesses, amid predictions that the tribunal, which is investigating the awarding of the second mobile phone licence, will run for at least another year, if not longer.
The latest round of public hearings come almost six months after the tribunal sent out so-called preliminary findings to interested parties.
Although the tribunal has threatened injunctions against newspapers that attempted to reveal its findings, it has been widely reported that the controversial findings were strongly critical of more than 12 civil servants and their handling of the mobile phone competition.
The civil servants are extremely angry at the findings. It is believed their argument is that the public hearings did not produce evidence to back up this criticism. It is understood there have been confrontational exchanges between legal teams and the tribunal and a substantial submission has been made to the tribunal by the Department of Communications.
The government is known to be anxious for the tribunal to complete its work because of the substantial cost involved, including legal fees of €2,500 a day for senior counsel.
In December, Judge Moriarty wrote to the Department of the Taoiseach stating he envisaged the tribunal completing its work within a short time. This is now seen as highly unlikely. Aside from various parties wishing to call witnesses to address some of the interim findings, there is a strong possibility of legal challenges.