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Counting the cost of the planning corruption tribunal in Ireland

Words: Roger Milne

The latest update on the activities of the tribunal set up in 1997 to investigate allegations of corrupt payments to politicians in relation to planning and rezoning decisions has revealed that it generated almost €23 million in third-party legal fees over the past decade, including €8 million in the past two years.

The new figures include payments of €1.4 million to lawyers for the late whistleblower and property developer Tom Gilmartin, and €419,000 in legal fees to the recently deceased former Dublin planning official George Redmond.

Substantial payments for the legal costs of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, and of individual party representatives, have been made since the start of 2014, according to the figures from the Department of Environment.

As a result of the legal challenges, the tribunal has been forced to withdraw many of the findings made in a report on former Fianna Fáil minister Ray Burke, and all of those in a report on Redmond, both published more than a decade ago.

So far, the tribunal has cost €116 million, a figure that includes €52 million in fees for the tribunal legal staff and €33 million in administration costs. The inquiry, which published its final report in 2012, still employs a skeleton staff, but expects to wrap up this year. The projected final cost of the inquiry is €159 million.

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