THE Government has hired the former Tanaiste and PD leader Michael McDowell to help defend the legality of the "promissory note" used to bail out Anglo Irish Bank.
He is joining a legal team put together to defend the legality of the "prom notes" in a High Court hearing that kicks off next Tuesday.
The legal challenge has been taken by businessman and debt-forgiveness campaigner David Hall. He has confirmed that Senior Counsels Michael McDowell, Michael Cush and Eoin McCullagh will represent the State in the action.
The addition of Mr McDowell, a senior barrister and former attorney-general, to the State's legal team is a sign of the seriousness with which next week's case is being taken.
Ironically, the Government has lined up the team of legal big guns to defend the €31bn of promissory notes at the same time as Michael Noonan battles with the European Central Bank to avoid paying the debt.
The State's team will face John Rogers SC – also a former attorney-general – and Ross Maguire SC, acting for Mr Hall.
The case centres on Mr Hall's challenge to the constitutionality of sweeping powers granted to the Minister for Finance under the 2010 Finance Act.
Those powers were used to create the promissory note in a deal that did not have to be approved by the Oireachtas.
The Minister for Finance, the Attorney General and the Central Bank are all named as defendants. In addition to the team of barristers, the chief state solicitor Eileen Creedon is acting for the Minister for Finance and the Attorney General. The Central Bank has hired private-sector law firm McCann FitzGerald for its legal defence.
The case is set for a three-day hearing at the High Court.