Lawyer who put away gangsters tops earnings list
A JUNIOR counsel who played a key role in prosecuting some of the country's most notorious gangsters has emerged as the top earning prosecution barrister, the Irish Independent has learnt.
John O'Sullivan -- an experienced Limerick-based lawyer -- topped the list of payments made by the Director of Public Prosecutions to barristers at €307,925.
Barristers prosecuting criminal cases earned a total of €14.7m last year -- more than one-third of the entire cost of running the DPP's office, new figures reveal.
A spokeswoman described them as "good value for money" as they played an important role in preparing, presenting cases in court and liaising with victims.
Mr O'Sullivan led the prosecution of notorious Limerick criminal Brian Collopy, who began an eight-year sentence earlier this year for attempting to intimidate a former associate ahead of an upcoming trial.
More than €14.7m was paid to 169 junior and senior counsels during 2010 to prosecute cases -- down from the €15.2 paid out in 2009.
Pauline Walley -- who last year successfully prosecuted violent criminal Angelo O'Riordan for killing a man in an unprovoked assault during which he was dragged under a car -- topped the payments to senior counsel, receiving €295,882.
Junior counsel Paul Anthony McDermott, who has been involved in prominent cases on behalf of the Law Society relating to fugitive solicitor Michael Lynn, was paid €287,301 by the DPP's office last year.
Lawyers' fees accounted for more than one-third of the total €41.2m bill for running the DPP's office last year.
The DPP estimated the fees paid to counsels have been cut by 22pc since 2008 -- including two cuts of 8pc imposed by the Department of Finance.
Paul O'Higgins, chair of the Bar Council, said there had been a cut of more than 20pc in the prosecution and defence payments.
"It is clear the overall figures are down, but I believe the number of cases went up. So the fee for the work done has gone down by a greater margin than the total figures would suggest," Mr O'Higgins said.