Garda whistleblower tribunal expected to cost more than €4m

Government sources say Mr Justice Charleton ‘acutely aware’ of need to monitor costs

Mr Justice Peter Charleton  at Dublin Castle. So far €207,000 has been spent on the inquiry.  Photograph: Dara MacDónaill

Mr Justice Peter Charleton at Dublin Castle. So far €207,000 has been spent on the inquiry. Photograph: Dara MacDónaill

 

The Charleton Tribunal into an alleged Garda smear campaign against whistleblower Sgt Maurice McCabe is expected to cost more than €4 million, the Cabinet heard on Wednesday.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan brought a memo outlining the costs to date, and projected future costs of the inquiry which is ongoing at Dublin Castle under Mr Justice Peter Charleton. So far €207,000 has been spent.

A Government spokesman said the operation of the tribunal was originally expected to cost in the region of €2.9 million, but the figure could come in at closer to €2.6 million, representing a saving of almost €300,000.

An additional €1.8 million would be required to cover the costs of witnesses and other outside agencies, the spokesman said.

When the tribunal was set up earlier this year its procedures emphasised the importance of completing its work “in as economical a manner as possible, and at the earliest date possible”.

Government sources said Mr Justice Charleton was “acutely aware” of the need to monitor costs carefully.

Legal challenges

Previous tribunals have been criticised after they were subjected to legal challenges and delays, with costs spiralling as they continued.

The terms of reference of the tribunal promise that unco-operative witnesses will have to pay their own costs.

Legal costs are also expected to be contained by allowing legal representation only for those whose reputation might be damaged.

The terms of reference refer to the two main whistleblowers, Sgt Maurice McCabe and Garda Keith Harrison, but a separate provision allows for the investigation of “any other complaints” made by other gardaí up to now.

There is understood to have been no discussion at Cabinet of evidence given at the tribunal to date.