‘Nothing to hide’: Minister doesn’t know ‘exact date’ Attorney General stopped doing private work
MINISTER FOR PUBLIC Expenditure Michael McGrath has said he doesn’t know “the exact date” when Attorney General Paul Gallagher stopped doing private legal work. © Sam Boal Rollingnews.ie ttorney General Paul Gallagher
It was reported last week Attorney General Paul Gallagher acted for former directors of Independent News & Media in the company’s proceedings with High Court-appointed inspectors whilst he was also the government’s legal advisor.
Social Democrats co-leader Roisin Shortall TD told the Dail that it was a “stunning” conflict of interest but Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said that the AG had been “finishing out a number of cases”
Varadkar said that the coalition’s three party leaders and the Cabinet were aware of that decision but said that they had not been informed of individual cases the Attorney General was involved in.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland today, McGrath said that Gallagher’s private work would have been completed sooner had the courts been fully open in the past 18 months.
The Attorney General did inform the government party leaders prior to his appointment that he had a number of existing litigation commitments to complete. And normally you would expect those to be completed in a short period of time. But, as you know, the Court Service was impacted significantly by Covid-19 over the last period, and there were delays but all of those responsibilities have now been fully discharged, as I understand it.
McGrath added that he doesn’t know the “exact date” when Gallagher completed his private work but that it should be possible to make this information available.
He also said that it should be made clear what the party leaders knew about the clients Gallagher was acting for.
“I’m sure there won’t be any difficulty in providing that information, there isn’t anything to hide here. The government believes in being as open and transparent in all of these issues as we possibly can be and the Office of the Attorney General really is vital to the work of government on a day to day basis and I have no doubt that any outstanding questions can and will be answered,” he said.
Sinn Féin TD Martin Kenny has called for the government to provide “a full and complete account” of Gallagher’s private cases while he’s been AG.