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Wednesday 18 September 2019

Council paid €100k to lawyer for two hearings

Gordon Deegan

ONE lawyer was paid almost €100,000 for representing a county council at two planning oral hearings that lasted 11 days.

Figures to be presented at Clare Council's February meeting later today will confirm that the council last year spent €688,830 (inclusive of VAT) on legal fees.

The figures show that Dublin-based senior counsel, Dermot Flanagan, received €96,469 for representing the local authority at two An Bord Pleanala oral hearings last year.

The hearing into council plans to construct a new bridge crossing at Killaloe lasted 10 days, while a separate oral hearing into plans to construct a contentious pier at Doolin lasted one day.

Mr Flanagan's work would have involved preparatory work as well as requiring him to be present during each day of the hearings.

The figures provided today were in response to a question tabled by Green party Councillor Brian Meaney and Independent councillors Christy Curtin and Michael Begley.

Extraordinary

Mr Meaney said yesterday: "I'm sure Mr Flanagan did a very good job in representing the council, but the €96,469 cost does seem extraordinary, and I would like a breakdown of his bill and how much he was charging the council on a daily basis.

"The troika representatives have already spoken about the need for legal fees in Ireland to be cut and brought into the 21st Century, but these payouts show no sign of that happening."

Other high-earning barristers last year included James Connolly SC, who received €59,339 for work on the extinguishment of a public right of way, a judicial review and advice on a local area plan and Traveller accommodation.

The council response discloses that the Ennis legal firm that represents the Council, Michael P Houlihan & Co, last year received €421,492. Mr Curtin said yesterday: "The Council should examine if it is more cost-effective to have its own in-house legal team."

Irish Independent

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