JUSTICE Minister Alan Shatter's former solicitors firm was paid almost €100,000 by the taxpayer last year for services it provided to the HSE, the Sunday Independent can reveal.
Gallagher Shatter Solicitors was among 150 legal practices and service providers that were paid €14.5m by the HSE last year for non-contracted work in the children and family services area. The fees predominantly relate to payments for guardian ad litem services, whereby social workers or solicitors independently represent children in the courts.
Separately, Arthur Cox solicitors was paid €15m under a legal services contract with the HSE and it is estimated that 60 per cent of the bill relates to childcare costs.
Last year, the Sunday Independent revealed that the redress board set up to compensate victims of clerical abuse paid Gallagher Shatter Solicitors €713,259 in fees since it was established 10 years ago.
Figures released under the Freedom of Information act by the HSE last week show the Dublin South TD's former firm was paid €96,393 for fees incurred between January and November last year for childcare services.
The minister, who earns €169,275 as a member of cabinet, listed Gallagher Shatter Solicitors as an additional income on the Oireachtas register of members' interests until he took office in March 2011.
The register was amended to say Mr Shatter had "ceased operating as a partner and ceased any day to day involvement in Gallagher Shatter Solicitors" since his appointment as justice Minister. Last Friday, when the Sunday Independent asked how much Mr Shatter's former practice has been paid by state agencies since he took office, the department said the Minister was not in position to respond as he had "ceased all active engagement in the firm".
A spokesman added: "Gallagher Shatter Solicitors should not in any publication be described as 'the Minister's firm', nor would any reference to the Minister be of any relevance to the matters which are the subject of the queries raised".
The spokesman later confirmed that Mr Shatter receives no income from the Dublin city centre practice where he once acted as the firm consultant on family law.
The largest fee paid by the HSE for non-contracted childcare services was to non-profit children's organisation Barnardos, which received €2.8m.