Public finance committee chairman says lawyers only benefit from costly commission reports

The chair of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has spoken out against the high cost of commissions of inquiry, saying the legal profession has “the only benefit” because of their high cost.

Inn Féin TD Brian Stanley said the “maximum potential loss to the taxpayer” from Siteserv was €8 million, but it “took €30 million to figure that out and it took six years”.

The “expectation” is that the report will cost 30 million euros, while the Moriarty tribunal could cost around 150 million euros.

Mr Stanley said the white collar crime unit within An Garda Siochana should investigate any wrongdoing.

“As Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, I have serious concerns that hundreds of millions of euros in bills are ending up on the taxpayer that will take years to settle.

“In some cases, years and decades without anyone ultimately ever being prosecuted

“You go to a shelf and the query regarding Siteserv is put on the shelf with Moriarty and others, the bill is paid, the legal profession just benefits from huge fees.

“Is there a better way to conduct these investigations?”

He said he wasn’t questioning the reports or their findings, but asked if there was a “better way” to carry them out.

“If the taxpayer spends tens of millions of euros, what for? So it gathers dust on a shelf somewhere, you know?

“As chairman of the audit committee, I will not overlook that,” he said.

Mr. Stanley said the committee should write to the department of the Taoiseach and seek the opinions of legal experts.

TD Neasa Hourigan from the Green Party asked if the Revenue Commissioners could be involved in the discussion.

“If you’re investigating something and the investigation is costing you more than the wrongdoing in the first place, it doesn’t make sense,” she said.

Meanwhile, TDs also demanded that An Bórd Pleanala chiefs be dragged back before the committee.

Dave Walsh, the chairman of the panel, appeared before TDs last July.

However, independent TD Verona Murphy said she had a specific question to ask bosses about planning and density politics.

She said she has asked several times for legislation to point out where minimum densities are imposed.

“We have a housing crisis and no houses are being built,” she said.

“It’s causing untold hardship and it’s causing the housing crisis.”

Green Party TD Neasa Hourigan said TDs could only achieve “so much” in the previous meeting with Mr Walsh, when Senior Counsel Remy Farrell was compiling a report for the organisation.

“Given the scale of the real estate crisis, we cannot allow An Bórd Pleanala to languish and stagnate in any kind of legal dilemma,” she said.

“We need them to lay out before this committee what the process is going forward and what we can expect for them.”

“Can we put it in the work plan to have An Bórd Pleanala back?”

PAC Chair Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley said a request for Ms Murphy’s question would be made, but did not confirm whether An Bórd Pleanala would be invited back before the committee. Public finance committee chairman says lawyers only benefit from costly commission reports

Fry Electronics Team

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