Tribunal has cost State €97m so far

Sat, Jan 7, 2012, 00:00

THE MAHON tribunal has so far cost more than €97 million, including over €5 million paid to its legal team since it ceased public hearings at the end of 2008.

Nearly €50 million has been paid to the tribunal’s legal team since it began its work in 1997. The top earners were Patricia Dillon SC, who earned almost €5.6 million; Des O’Neill SC, who was paid €5.3 million; John Quinn SC, €5.2 million; Eunice O’Raw SC, €4.2 million; and John Gallagher SC who earned just over €3.2 million.

The Tribunal of Inquiry into Certain Planning Matters and Payments was established by minister for the environment and local government, Noel Dempsey in November 1997.

It was set up to inquire into the planning history and ownership of 726 acres of land in north Dublin and to investigate any payments made to politicians or officials in connection with its rezoning.

Its terms of reference were expanded in July 1998, October 2002, July 2003 and December 2004 to allow for the investigation of all suspect payments to politicians and local authority officials in Dublin.

Its work included an investigation into the finances of former taoiseach Bertie Ahern.

Its first chairman, Mr Justice Feargus Flood, retired in June 2003 after issuing three interim reports. He was replaced by chairman Judge Alan Mahon with Judge Mary Faherty and Judge Gerald Keys.

The tribunal last sat in public on December 3rd, 2008, after 917 days of hearings with 400 witnesses. Its legal team has earned more than €5.3 million since then.

In total, it has so far cost just over €97 million including almost €50 million for its legal team, €30 million in administration costs and €10 million for third-party legal costs.

Third-party costs are awarded to witnesses who have been legally represented at the tribunal.

To the end of 2011, additional court costs, expended in cases defended by and taken by the Mahon tribunal at the High Court and Supreme Court, have totalled €7.4 million.

This figure included almost €3.4 million in counsel fees and €4.1 million in other court costs.

The most expensive year for the tribunal so far was 2006 when it incurred over €16 million including €2.7 million in administrative costs, €5.7 million for its legal team, almost €1 million for court costs and €6.6 million for third-party costs.

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has called for the publication of the tribunal’s report as soon as possible.

There has been no comment from the Mahon tribunal about when the report will issue.