Monday 16 October 2017

Tribunal still paying staff over €1,000 a day

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

THE Moriarty Tribunal is still paying its staff up to €1,000 per day -- even though the final report was delivered a year ago.

Judge Michael Moriarty has retained the services of two barristers, one solicitor and three administrative staff to decide on the awarding of legal costs to witnesses -- which could bring the final tribunal bill to €120m.

Junior counsel Patrick Dillon Malone is on a daily rate of €1,050 per day -- although he is employed occasionally rather than full time.

Junior counsel Stephen McCullough is getting paid €860 per day -- having already earned €2.5m working for the tribunal for the past decade.

And solicitor Stuart Brady is earning €782 per day, having earned €778,000 with the tribunal since 2005.

The Department of the Taoiseach has set aside €650,000 to cover the cost of running the tribunal this year, which has now been in existence for 14 years.

The Dail's Public Accounts Committee expressed frustration yesterday that the final bill for the tribunal would not be known until all the legal costs were determined.

The tribunal has cost €41m so far, with €33m of this accounted for by payments to the tribunal legal team. Two barristers -- John Coughlan and Jeremiah Healy -- earned more than €9m, while barrister Jacqueline O'Brien earned €6m. The legal costs of witnesses could cost an additional €40m to €80m.

Witnesses

The department has not yet paid any legal costs to witnesses -- although 13 claims worth €1.87m are currently being examined by the Chief State Solicitor's office.

Department of Taoiseach secretary general Martin Fraser said that the department's relationship with Judge Michael Moriarty's tribunal was "hands-off" because it did not want to pressurise him.

"He has said to us on more than one occasion that he believes that the award of costs is part of his work," he said.

Irish Independent

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