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The Moriarty Tribunal is finally set to wind up early next year with a final cost of over €65 million

The Tribunal published its final report in 2011, but still has not wound down.

Businessman Denis O Brien leaves the Moriarty Tribunal in Dublin Castle in June 2007
Businessman Denis O Brien leaves the Moriarty Tribunal in Dublin Castle in June 2007
Image: Albert Gonzalez/Rollingnews.ie

THE MORIARTY TRIBUNAL is set to finally conclude early next year after costing the taxpayer at least €65.5 million.

The tribunal which looked into the financial affairs of, among others, Charles Haughey and Michael Lowry, has continued to cost the State money, even after the publication of the final report in 2011. 

Since 2017, it has cost an additional €10 million through various legal fees. 

Officially called the Tribunal of Inquiry into certain Payments to Politicians and Related Matters, it took 14 years to find that former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry had an “insidious and pervasive” influence over the awarding of Ireland’s second mobile phone licence in the 1990s to Denis O’Brien’s Esat Digifone company.

Lowry is currently still a sitting TD for Tipperary. He rejects the findings of the Tribunal, as does O’Brien.

Speaking to the Oireachtas Finance Committee in February 2017, then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny provided a brekadown of the €54 million that had been spent to date. 

He said that €35.58 million had been spent on legal fees; €9.764 million had been spent on administration; €6.84 million was spent on third party costs; and €2.55 million was spent on other payments.

In response to a parliamentary question late this year, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the Tribunal’s work was nearly finished.

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He said: “Following publication of that Report, the Tribunal’s team was substantially reduced and a small legal and administrative staff remains in place.

The determination by the Court of Appeal in relation to one of the last remaining sets of legal proceedings taken against the Tribunal took place in 2018. Following the judgement in those proceedings it has been necessary for the Tribunal to give further consideration to certain aspects of the very few remaining applications for costs which the Sole Member is undertaking at present.
The Tribunal continues with wind down and deconstruction, arrangements have been made for proper storage and archiving of files. This process is ongoing at present and a significant portion of this aspect has been concluded in recent months. It is expected that all matters concerning those remaining costs applications will be concluded by early next year.

The final bill for the Moriarty Tribunal is among the highest spent on such an inquiry in the history of the State, but is far less than the €136 million that the Mahon Tribunal has cost to date. The final bill for the Mahon Tribunal is expected to reach €140 million.

The Disclosures Tribunal, which looked into protected disclosures made by Garda Sergeant Maurice McCabe, has cost the State €8.2 million to date.

That Tribunal will continue its work into the new year as it continues to look into the final term of reference – protected disclosures by gardaí prior to February 2016 alleging wrongdoing within An Garda Síochána where the garda was subsequently targeted or discredited with the knowledge of senior members of the gardaí. 

About the author:

Sean Murray

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