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Fine Gael's €600k Moriarty Tribunal bill paid by Taoiseach's Department

The Moriarty Tribunal costs continue to accumulate…in the third quarter of this year, the bill came to €886,482.23.

Former Fine Gael member, Michael Lowry.
Former Fine Gael member, Michael Lowry.
Image: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

DESPITE ISSUING ITS final report in 2011, the costs of the Moriarty Tribunal continue to accumulate.

Purchase orders published by the Department of the Taoiseach for the third quarter of this year showthat €886,482.23 was paid out in professional and legal fees relating to the Moriarty Tribunal.

Fine Gael legal costs

Of this sum, €635,912.41 was accumulated in third-party costs for the Fine Gael Party relating to the Moriarty Tribunal and paid to the legal firm, Kevin O’Higgin Solicitors.

The Tribunal Report into Payments to Politicians and Related Matters, known as the Moriarty Tribunal, was set up in 1997 to investigate alleged payments to former Fine Gael minister Michael Lowry and to the late Fianna Fáil Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

Why does the Department foot the bill?

The Department of the Taoiseach had responsibility to fund the Tribunal, which makes orders in relation to costs incurred by those giving evidence.

In a statement to TheJournal.ie as to why legal fees for the Fine Gael Party in relation to the Moriarty Tribunal were being paid for by the Department of the Taoiseach, it explained:

Tribunals make orders in relation to costs to those to whom they granted legal representation. Those granted costs orders are then entitled to claim such costs (third-party costs), which are paid by the Department, which has responsibility for funding the Tribunal… in respect of the Moriarty Tribunal.

They stated that the Department by the Chief State Solicitor’s Office (CSSO), engages a professional legal cost accountant to assist it in negotiating these cost claims. The department added:

The payment made to the Fine Gael party is in full settlement of costs claimed by that party in relation to the Moriarty Tribunal, which was set up in 1997 and published its final report in March 2011.

A Legal Costs Unit was established in the State Claims Agency earlier this year and handles third-party costs claims received since then in respect of the Moriarty (and Mahon) Tribunals.

To end-September 2013, a total of €1,668,344.97 has been paid to 23 parties in third party costs (the  total amount claimed by those parties was  €2,949,767.22) relating to the Moriarty Tribunal.

The Fine Gael Party had no comment to make in relation to the matter when contacted by TheJournal.ie today.

Other professional fees paid by the Department of the Taoiseach include a €44,245.56 bill for Stewart Brady and €23,000 worth of legal costs paid to Peter Fitzpatrick & Company.

Third-party costs of €33,873.95 were paid to Doyle & Company in relation to Patrick McCann and  €27,263.18 was paid to Maurice Power Solicitors in relation to John Magnier/Coolmore/Castlehyde & Associated Stud Farm.

A further €89,467.60 was paid out to Vincent & Beatty Solicitor in relation the late David Austin and Maureen Austin. €32,719.53 was paid to Pearse Mehigan & Company in relation to Joseph N. Malone.

The Moriarty Tribunal was held in Dublin Castle and was chaired by Mr Justice Michael Moriarty.

Two reports were published, one in 2006 and a second report in 2011.

Read: Martin wants Moriarty reopened, Taoiseach says Tribunal’s work is finished>

Read: Gardaí examining Lowry tape as conversation is aired on national TV>

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