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€196 million: the estimated final cost for the Mahon Tribunal

The Department of the Environment updates its formal estimates on how much the Planning Tribunal will cost the public.

Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

THE GOVERNMENT DEPARTMENT responsible for covering the costs of the Mahon Tribunal has issued an updated estimate for the total costs of the Tribunal.

The Department of the Environment now believes that the 13-year inquiry into corruption in the planning process will incur total costs of €196.3 million, with outstanding legal costs accounting for around 60 per cent of this.

€51.4 million is estimated as the total cost for witnesses’ representation at the Tribunal’s public hearings, while €56 million will be needed to cover the ‘discovery’ costs of examining evidence submitted to the Tribunal, of which there were around 1.6 million pages.

Another €10 million will be needed to meet outstanding third party legal costs, and another €4 million to cover miscellaneous costs, leading to a total of €117.4 million.

This figure has been written down by 20 per cent, however, to discount whatever costs have been dealt with when the Tribunal delivered its earlier interim reports.

The Department says the remaining €94 million will be added to the Tribunal’s running costs of €97.3 million up to the end of 2011, and the €5 million set aside for its running costs this year, to leave a total of €196.3 million.

The chief civil servant at the Department, Geraldine Tallon, has told the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee that the costs had been estimated by the Tribunal’s own registrar, and were based on the Tribunal’s own records and experiences of the costs that were likely to arise.

Accounts relating to the number of legal professionals liable to submit fees show that the Tribunal is likely to face 300 briefing fees, costs for 706 senior counsel, 1180 junior counsel, and 1759 solicitors for work on its 917 days of hearings.

These figures relate both to the Tribunal’s own legal team and to the counsel representing the various witnesses and interested parties in each of those days.

Read: Mahon whistleblower James Gogarty left with €1m legal costs

More: Power, payments, politicians and planning: the Mahon Tribunal in numbers

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Gavan Reilly

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