CLARE County Council paid out more than €688,000 in legal expenses last year.
At last night’s (Monday) meeting of the council, members asked if such costs had to be entailed.
Cllr Christy Curtin who requested the breakdown of the council’s legal expenses said, “The advice of law is a burden on our resources.”
He asked if the council could avoid the cost of legal advice in the future.
Director of Services Bernadette Kinsella told the members the county manager “was exploring other options”.
Of the €688,830 paid out by the council on legal fees and for legal advice the majority of the costs were paid to Michael P Houlihan Solicitors.
County Solicitor John Shaw is a member of the firm, accounting for the majority of these costs.
The second highest payment made by the council was to Dublin-based senior counsel, Dermot Flanagan SC. He received €96,469 for representing the local authority at two An Bord Pleanala oral hearings last year.
The hearing into council plans to construct a new bridge crossing at Killaloe lasted 10 days, while a separate oral hearing into plans to construct a contentious pier at Doolin lasted one day.
The Shannon bridge crossing proved the most expensive project from a legal standpoint last year, adding up to €134,614 in total.
Extinguishing a right of way also proved legally expensive at a cost of €93,006. The legal costs pertaining to Traveller accommodation for the year came in at €89,726 and the Ennis Water Treatment Settlement at €76,73.
Payments to Michael P Houlihan Solicitors included legal work on the acquisition of land and wayleaves; civil claim water services; extinguishment of right of way; enforcement cases relating to planning and the environment; the Killaloe Bridge Crossing; Traveller accommodation and other miscellaneous services.
A sum of €59,339 was made from the council to James Connolly SC for a number of legal issues, with Patrick G Quinn receiving €49,740 for legal work on a number of issues.

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Claire Gallagher is a multi-award winning journalist with more than 15 years experience in media. The Galwegan began her career in radio working in news and current affairs. Having spent a year on the dark side – political PR and Spin – she returned to journalism and has since then worked mainly in print – regional and national – while continuing to work with the broadcast media. She has been with the Clare People since its foundation in 2005. She was awarded “Young Irish Medical Journalist of the Year” in June 2008 while working with the paper. Twitter @galocon Facebook ClaireGallagherClarePeople

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