Saturday 24 September 2016

Garda 'malpractice' barristers share €164k

Published 07/06/2015 | 02:30

Seven barristers reviewing more than 300 complaints of alleged garda malpractice have shared fees of €164,000 up to the end of last year
Seven barristers reviewing more than 300 complaints of alleged garda malpractice have shared fees of €164,000 up to the end of last year

Seven barristers reviewing more than 300 complaints of alleged garda malpractice have shared fees of €164,000 up to the end of last year.

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Two senior counsel were paid brief fees of €20,000 and all seven barristers were paid €300, €550 or €800 for each case they reviewed, depending on its complexity. The fees average out at over €17,000 for each barrister, excluding the brief fees of €40,000.

The legal review panel was appointed by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald last year to examine 319 public complaints about alleged garda malpractice, and recommend whether any of them warranted further investigation.

The process has been delayed by the volume and complexity of the cases, ranging from "tragic deaths to property disputes".

The minister had hoped to write to the families involved last month to tell them whether their complaints would be escalated for investigation, either by a commission of inquiry or to the garda watchdog, GSOC. But the process has proved so complicated, she has appointed a retired judge to advise her on preparing the correspondence.

The minister said she won't publish the letters sent to families but will publish a "general overview" of the "issues and trends" that have emerged.

Some families have complained about the independence of the review process. Lucia O'Farrell, whose son Shane (23) was killed in a hit-and-run by a heroin addict who was out on bail for other crimes.

Ms O'Farrell claimed there was a possible conflict of interest in the review as one of its members was the defence counsel for the driver of the car that killed her son.

The minister insisted that the barrister concerned would not be involved in reviewing Ms O'Farrell's son's case.

Sunday Independent

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