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Fennelly Commission seeks 400,000 euro for more lawyers

Published 18/11/2015

The inquiry is looking into the circumstances leading up to the shock resignation of Garda chief Martin Callinan last year
The inquiry is looking into the circumstances leading up to the shock resignation of Garda chief Martin Callinan last year

A State inquiry into a secret system recording telephone calls at Garda stations said it needed more barristers and staff at a cost of around 400,000 euro.

In its latest interim report, the Fennelly Commission also formally sought another extension until September next year to complete its investigation.

The inquiry was set up more than a year-and-a-half ago and was supposed to be wound up by the end of last year.

It already employs three full time barristers as well as another four on a part-time basis.

The commission indicated it was seeking another three 100,000 euro a year lawyers to help it finish its work by the new deadline.

Furthermore, it had outlined plans to hire more senior barristers commanding 1,000 euro a day on an ad hoc basis.

While Taoiseach Enda Kenny said two million euro was set aside for the inquiry, the commission itself said it was not possible to estimate the full costs.

Supreme Court judge Nial Fennelly is investigating the circumstances leading up to the shock resignation of Garda chief Martin Callinan last year.

It is also inquiring into the impact of taped conversations, specifically on the investigation into the murder of French film producer Sophie Toscan du Plantier.

A legal action by former English journalist Ian Bailey for wrongful arrest in the investigation in west Cork exposed the recording system.

The latest interim report reveals more than 45,000 recorded telephone calls to and from Bandon Garda station were examined by gardai as part of the Bailey case.

Less than 1% of these were considered relevant to the murder investigation, the commission said.

An earlier interim report found Mr Callinan felt he had no option but to step down after Mr Kenny dispatched his top official to his house late at night over the Garda phone-taping scandal.

It ruled Mr Kenny did not sack the police chief or intend to pressure him into quitting, but his orders left no choice but for him to ''walk off the pitch''.

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