THE two tribunals still operating from Dublin Castle have now created a staggering 22 millionaires from the ranks of their legal teams, the latest figures obtained by the Sunday Tribune reveal.
The Moriarty tribunal, which is expected to publish its final report in the coming weeks, has six members of its legal team in the €1m-plus club, while the Mahon tribunal – also expected to report soon – has 16 lawyers that have been paid in excess of that amount.
Tribunal lawyers have banked in excess of €77m in fees since 1997, with the top 22 lawyers in the millionaires' club earning an average of €3.16m each. The elite group of 22 is made up of nine senior counsel, nine junior counsel and four solicitors.
The overall average for the 45 lawyers, who have worked for the two tribunals during their marathon 12-and-a-half year tenures, is around €1.7m.
The three top earners come from the Moriarty tribunal, with senior counsel John Coughlan being paid €8.9m and Jerry Healy around the €8.6m mark (both including Vat) to the end of November last. Another Moriarty tribunal senior counsel Jacqueline O'Brien has been paid €6.14m (including Vat).
The top earner in the Mahon tribunal is Patricia Dillon, who has been paid €5.338m up to the end of 2009. Des O'Neill, who is best known for his exchanges with former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern during the latter's stints in the witness box at Dublin Castle, has been paid €5.28m to date.
Senior counsel at the Moriarty tribunal had been paid €2,500 a day compared to the €2,250 daily rate at Mahon. However, the daily rates were cut by 8% following the government's decision last February to introduce an across-the-board cut in professional fees.
This move cut the daily rate at Moriarty by €200 a day and at Mahon by €180.
A further 8% cut in professional fees announced in the budget in December is also due to be implemented.
However, its impact will be minimal as many of the lawyers have concluded their work with the tribunals, which are coming to an end, and are now involved in writing up their final reports.
For example, it was reported last year that Mahon tribunal senior counsel Des O'Neill, Patricia Dillon and Henry Murphy, as well as junior counsel Cathal Murphy had concluded their work with the tribunal in October 2008 when the public hearings were completed.
Pat Quinn SC and junior counsel Annette Foley, Sarah Maguire and Eunice O'Raw were retained.
The high fees paid to tribunal lawyers has long been a source of controversy. The government had said in 2004 that it would reduce the daily fees of senior counsel to €900 a day but this never happened.
It also emerged last October that the Moriarty tribunal had spent €57,000 on hand-delivered lunches for its judge and barristers since it was established, on the basis that they could not leave Dublin castle in case they encountered journalists or "argumentative" members of the public.
And judges and lawyers at Mahon have spent €120,000 on food, water and coffee during its hearings.
Tribunal legal team of 22*
1. John Coughlan, Moriarty Tribunal €8.9m
2. Jerry Healy, Moriarty €8.59m
3. Jacqueline O'Brien, Moriarty €6.1m
4. Patricia Dillon, Flood/Mahon Tribunal €5.338m
5. Des O'Neill, Flood/Mahon €5.279m
6. Patrick Quinn, Flood/Mahon €4.577m
7. Eunice O'Raw, Flood/Mahon €4.1m
8. John Gallagher, Flood/Mahon €3.2m
9. Annette Foley, Flood/Mahon €2.54m
10. Henry Murphy, Flood/Mahon €2.338m
11. Mairead Coughlan, Flood/Mahon €2.1m
12. Maire Moriarty, Moriarty €2.08m
13. Susan Gilvarry, Flood/Mahon €1.97m
14. Patrick Hanratty, Flood/Mahon €1.769m
15. Stuart Brady, Moriarty €1.5m
16. Fergal Doyle, Flood/Mahon €1.49m
17. Cathal Murphy, Flood/Mahon €1.45m
18. Stephen McCullough, Moriarty €1.446m
19. Donall King, Flood/Mahon €1.2m
20. Sarah (O'Connell) Maguire, Flood/Mahon €1.189m
21. Adele Murphy, Flood/Mahon €1.18m
22. Maire Howard, Flood/Mahon €1.16m
* Fees paid include Vat