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Taoiseach fails again to reduce fees for Tribunals – Ó Caoláin

28 March, 2007

Sinn Féin Dáil leader Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin has criticised the Government for not introducing the new lower scale of fees for lawyers at the Mahon Tribunal which were supposed to be introduced on 31st March. The Taoiseach told Deputy Ó Caoláin in the Dáil on Tuesday that the matter remained "under discussion" but also on Tuesday the Cabinet shelved the plan to reduce legal fees for the Mahon Tribunal.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The Government was supposed to introduce a new scale of legal fees for the Mahon Tribunal from 31st March. It has now shelved that plan. Yet the Taoiseach told me that the matter was still under discussion - even though on the same day the Cabinet made its decision not to reduce the fees. Senior counsel at the tribunal will continue to receive nearly €2,500 per day.

"This decision shows that it was pure hypocrisy on the part of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell to complain recently about the cost of tribunals. He stayed silent for years while his colleagues in the Law Library benefited from inflated tribunal fees. Minister McDowell complained specifically about the cost of the Mahon Tribunal. He claimed it would cost the taxpayer over €1 billion, a figure strongly disputed by the tribunal itself. Once again Minister McDowell has been exposed as being full of hot air. He prefers pontification to action. When he and his colleagues have the opportunity to moderate fees they refuse to do so.

"For years many people, including myself in Questions to the Taoiseach, have been pointing out the high cost of tribunals due to the failure of the Government to moderate the scale of fees being paid to tribunal lawyers. For all that time the Government refused to bring in a proper scheme that would prevent the milking of the tribunal by a small group within the legal profession. Now they have failed again to act decisively." ENDS

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