The cost of funding public tribunals and commissions of inquiry into wrongdoing by state agencies and individuals will reach close to €500m by the end of this year.
Documents obtained by the Irish Examiner reveal for the first time a global picture of costs relating to seven tribunals of inquiry, 11 commissions of investigation, one commission of inquiry, and three reports into certain matters.
By the end of 2019, taxpayers will have paid €479m to fund such inquiries. The documents show that, as of December 31, the seven tribunals had cost a total of €341m, with two ongoing.
The costs are broken down as follows:
The documents state that third-party costs remain to be paid in the Smithwick and Morris tribunals.
The 11 commissions of investigation have to date cost €28.6m, a clear indication as to why governments have chosen to establish these over the more expensive tribunals.
The most expensive commission to date has been the one into alleged sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin including Cloyne, established in 2009. It has cost €8.8m so far, and is deemed to have concluded its work.
The 2015 Cregan commission, into IBRC and Siteserv, has, according to the documents, cost €5m so far. However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said last week that the latest figure is closer to €7.5m and will likely top €30m by the time it is completed.
The 2014 Fennelly commission, into certain recordings of Garda Síochána members relating to the death of Sophie Toscan du Plantier and the departure of former commissioner Martin Callinan, has cost €3.5m to date.
Other commissions listed include: The O’Higgins commission into Cavan/Monaghan Garda matters (€1.8m); the 2014 MacLochlainn commission into the shooting of Ronan MacLochlainn (€1.1m); the Leas Cross commission (€2.1m); Dublin/Monaghan bombings commission (€2.6m); the ‘Grace’ foster abuse commission (€2m); Nama/Project Eagle commission (€1.2m, expected to top €10m) and the Moran commission into 2016 Rio ticket sales (€312,765).
Mr Varadkar said “there isn’t a week that goes by that the opposition, TDs, or party leaders call for an inquiry or a tribunal or whatever.
“And while they may be merited, we must bear in mind the time that they take, they often don’t give people the answers they want or need, and they cost the taxpayer a lot of money. So we all need to bear that in mind when we call for inquiries into the future.”