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Tribunal played vital role but is too cumbersome and expensive

9 December, 2004


Sinn Féin spokesperson on the Environment and Local Government, Arthur Morgan TD, while acknowledging the "vital role" the Mahon Tribunal played in exposing corruption, said the whole system is "extremely cumbersome and obviously very expensive." Deputy Morgan was speaking in the Dáil today during the debate on the Mahon Tribunal.

Deputy Morgan said, "It is important to acknowledge that the Mahon tribunal in particular has played a vital role in exposing the corruption that has been endemic in the State over many years. It brought the issue of corruption to the public domain and shed light on how certain individuals, such as Ray Burke and George Redmond, actually operated. It created a climate in which corruption is no longer acceptable. Nevertheless, the tribunal system is extremely cumbersome and obviously very expensive."

"The Mahon tribunal is making some very slow progress. It is sometimes slow because of the non-co-operation of certain witnesses. Many in the public domain would like to see the tribunal take a tougher stance on such witnesses. It is frustrating that very few prosecutions have resulted from the tribunal's work. The legal profession has been unashamedly exploiting the tribunal process as a cash cow for many years. The public feels the legal professionals are like parasites bleeding the taxpayer and it is outraged and annoyed.

"This Bill did not deal with all the elements with which it should have dealt. It should have dealt with the issue of legal fees and implemented a ceiling pertaining thereto. It is proposed that senior counsel are to receive an annual salary of €213,000 plus, solicitors are to receive an annual salary of €176,000 and junior counsel are to receive an annual salary of €142,000. These figures are very bizarre. And being only marginally lower than the current rates they are still far too high.

"The terms of reference of the Mahon tribunal are manifestly too broad for it to deliver on the objectives for which it was established. It is clear that the terms of reference need to be made more specific and achievable. They should be set within a specific timeframe if the tribunal is to be effective in exposingcorruption and wrongdoing. We need to ensure that the chairman of the tribunal does not have too much discretion in deciding what to investigate. This should be the job of an Oireachtas Committee." ENDS

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