State to pay Haughey tribunal legal bill which may hit €5m
THE MORIARTY tribunal has awarded costs to the estate of the late Charles Haughey. The size of the costs sought is expected to be in the region of €4-€5 million, according to informed sources.
The former taoiseach, who died in June 2006, was the subject of the first of the tribunal’s two reports, published in December 2006. The tribunal investigated payments to Mr Haughey during his years as taoiseach and whether he had sought to do favours for those who made payments to him.
It found that he took payments of €11.56 million between 1979 and 1996, and granted favours in return. It said the scale and secretive nature of the payments “can only be said to have devalued the quality of a modern democracy”.
His family disputed the tribunal’s findings, which it said were not supported by the evidence.
Among the disclosures made at the tribunal were the fact that he had debts of €1.2 million with AIB when he first became taoiseach in 1979, but the bank wrote off much of this after he attained political office.
Earlier, the McCracken tribunal investigated payments to the former taoiseach by Ben Dunne of Dunnes Stores and also made harsh findings against Mr Haughey. That tribunal reported in 1997 and Mr Haughey did not seek his costs.
In the wake of the Moriarty tribunal’s report, there was much speculation that the tribunal might refuse him his costs. However, it is understood the tribunal decided some months ago that he was entitled to his legal costs. The solicitors and barristers who represented Mr Haughey will now submit their bills to the State Claims Agency, part of the National Treasury Management Agency.
The former taoiseach was represented by Ivor Fitzpatrick Co solicitors, and barristers Eoin McGonigal SC and Paul Gardiner SC.
There was no comment from the tribunal yesterday. Efforts to contact a member of his family were unsuccessful.
The costs have been awarded to his estate. Mr Haughey left an estate of approximately €1 million when he died, according to documents filed in the Probate Office.
The former Fianna Fáil leader sold his home and estate in Kinsealy, Co Dublin, to Manor Park Homes for €45 million in 2003 and it was a condition of the sale that he remained in the mansion for the rest of his life. At about the same time he made a €6.5 million settlement with the Revenue Commissioners and is believed to have divided a considerable portion of the residue of the €45 million among his four children.
The second report of the Moriarty tribunal, published in March of last year, concerned payments to the former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry. It found that he received payments from, among others, the businessman Denis O’Brien. It also found that Mr Lowry interfered with the 1995 mobile phone licence competition that was won by Mr O’Brien’s Esat Digifone. Both men have disputed the tribunal’s findings. A decision on costs to Mr Lowry and Mr O’Brien is still being awaited.