Miriam Lord’s Week

The running costs of tribunals, Kenny’s studs-up approach on Colllins and Finian McGrath is faster than Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez may have scored in the World Cup but when it comes to recovering from injury he can’t hold a candle to  Finian McGrath. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Luis Suarez may have scored in the World Cup but when it comes to recovering from injury he can’t hold a candle to Finian McGrath. Photograph: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

Sat, Jun 21, 2014, 07:25

Tribunal running costs pick up pace

It seems m’learned friends are licking their chops as the Oireachtas Banking Inquiry gets down to business.

Toot! Toot! Is the gravy train rolling again?

At the Committee’s inaugural meeting on Thursday, members were told by officials that it’s looking like lawyers and solicitors will be seeking “tribunal rates” for their work.

As the inquiry is still in the preliminary stages, the committee is only beginning the task of nailing down its running costs, but the early indications they heard from the legal front are not encouraging.

As politicians whispered about this worrying development yesterday, one government deputy remarked “the sword of Damocles is hanging over that committee now. If this is true, the cost could run into millions upon millions.”

Word in Leinster House is that representatives of the legal profession have indicated at this early stage that fees should be pitched on a par with Mahon and Moriarty.

“Fears were expressed at Thursday’s meeting that the legal eagles are limbering up for full tribunal rates. The members got quite a shock when they heard this. It really is an appalling vista.”

Numbers were quoted to the committee “that would make your toes curl.”

After Thursday’s meeting, Chairman Ciaran Lynch gave a businesslike account of their deliberations as members got down to the difficult job of preparing a detailed proposal for the inquiry.

He said next week’s meeting will a “substantive” discussion on the scope of the inquiry, the timeline for the preparation of the proposal and completion of the inquiry.

They also agreed that it “should be cost-effective.”

“We received a clear and detailed picture of the legal context in which the inquiry will take place and the committee agreed in principle to seek the services of legal or banking expertise where it may be required throughout the process,” he said.

Ciaran’s calm words did not convey the sense of disquiet during the meeting at the notion that the inquiry could result in a gravy train for lawyers and a crippling legal costs bill for the taxpayer. There were even suggestions of people doing “nixers” at a lower price, if possible.

“This is the first major challenge facing the inquiry and the members are really determined to keep the costs down. But the spectre of tribunal rates is already haunting them.”

We hear some members are hoping they can negotiate down the price by trying to convince the legal people that their work is in the national interest.

Appealing to their sense of public duty.

You never know, it might work.

Backbencher Griffin fronts up

More friction at the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting.

This time, it was Kerry backbencher Brendan Griffin who let fly, irked by a smart remark in his direction from the Taoiseach.

Griffin had some harsh words to say about the state of the party in the aftermath of the local elections and said the party needed to change direction and freshen-up in order to halt and reverse the slide.

In a number of radio interviews, the Castlemaine man suggested that, as a start, the Taoiseach should carry out a “comprehensive” cabinet reshuffle. It was subsequently reported in some quarters that Griffin had recommended that the entire cabinet be given the boot.

At Wednesday’s meeting, Enda told the troops that the party had endured a very difficult few weeks, and that he was personally facing into some difficult weeks ahead as he considered his reshuffle.

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