Cost of the Moriarty Tribunal
Media Alert: “Moriarty lawyers’ demand for severance payments rejected” – Irish Times, 27 August 2011
The process leading to the awarding of the second mobile phone licence began in March 1995 when the Irish Government published a Request for Proposals for the licence (“RFP”). 6 bids were submitted on 4 August 1995 in response to the RFP. Esat Digifone was announced as having submitted the winning bid on 25 October 1995. The 7 month competition process cost approximately €500,000 in external consultancy fees.
The Moriarty Tribunal began inquiring into the awarding of the second mobile phone licence in 2001. It began its public sittings in December 2002. Since then, some 77 witnesses were called to give evidence over 185 public sitting days stretching over a 10 year period. The Tribunal issued its final report in late March 2011. The Tribunal has continued to make significant payments to members of its legal team up to as recently as July 2011. The exact cost of this inquiry into the second mobile phone licence is difficult to estimate, but is certainly quantifiable in terms of tens of millions of euro (if not hundreds of millions).
In short, the Moriarty Tribunal has spent 10 years and tens of millions of euro (if not hundreds of millions of euro) inquiring into a licence process that took 7 months and cost approx. €500,000 over 14 years ago.
The Moriarty Tribunal’s legal team boasts in its ranks the three highest paid “Tribunal Millionaires” in the history of the State. Jerry Healy SC has earned in excess of €9.6m in fees from the Irish taxpayer. His former Tribunal colleague John Coughlan earned €9.285m before departing the Tribunal last year. A third Senior Counsel to the Moriarty Tribunal, Jacqueline O’Brien SC, is now around the €7m mark for her contribution to date.
The Tribunal Solicitor, Stuart Brady, earned in or about €1.9m since he was appointed to the Tribunal in 2005. The Tribunal also employed a number of additional Junior Counsel; some of whom are also Tribunal Millionaires (Maire Moriarty- €2.5m; Stephen McCullough €1.9m)
The extravagant fees earned by the members of the Moriarty Tribunal’s legal team has generated significant public concern and media comment. The general issue of the huge costs of modern day Tribunals of Inquiry has come under scrutiny from the Dail Committee on Public Accounts (“PAC”) and by the Comptroller and Auditor General (“C & AG”). The lavish expenses incurred by / on behalf of the Tribunal’s legal team also came under the spotlight with reports of €57,000 being racked up for sandwiches, €14,000+ for newspapers etc. being highlighted followed requests having been made under the Freedom of Information Acts.
“Long days pay big money to senior counsel at Moriarty Tribunal” – Sunday Business Post, 19 July 2009
“Tribunal lawyers rack up €57,000 sandwich bill” – Sunday Times, 6 September 2009.