For Fucks Sake, this Cannot be Right, Come on? Another Fianna Fail, Cosy Deal?

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Suspended solicitor Orla Ellis secures new job in the Department of Social Protection

• 33m ago

A suspended solicitor, who is under investigation by the Law Society for running up a deficit of €560,000 in her client account, has secured a job with the civil service.

Orla Ellis, a Leitrim-based solicitor and the daughter of former Fianna Fáil TD John Ellis, secured a job with the Department of Social Protection after she was suspended by the High Court last August.

Sources in Leitrim revealed Ellis, who was also running Quinn’s pub in Fenagh, Co Leitrim, with her husband, is working for the department which administers social welfare payments despite a series of alarming financial issues discovered in her legal practice.

In March the Sunday Independentreported that an internal Law Society disciplinary committee found Ellis had been “dishonest in her practice as a solicitor”. This “dishonesty” caused a deficit in client funds where a number of elderly clients or the estates of dead people had been overcharged. An affidavit from a Law Society investigator said there was an acknowledged practice of “teeming and lading”, a form of bookkeeping fraud, by Ellis and she had accepted the contents of his critical report on her firm.

The Law Society investigation found that large bequests left by clients of Ellis to charities such as the Salvation Army and Irish Guide Dogs for the Blind had not been paid as instructed to Ellis.

Ellis is now working for the biggest employer of civil servants with over 6,500 staff in the Department of Social Protection headed up by Fine Gael’s Heather Humphreys. She oversees a budget of more than €23bn.

Asked about Ellis’s recruitment, the department said it cannot comment on queries in relation to staff members.

“The department recruits staff through the Public Appointments Service (PAS),” it said. “Where a candidate is being considered for a role, PAS carry out final eligibility and pre-employment checks including garda vetting before assigning the candidate to a government department.”

After the Sunday Independentsent a direct email to Ellis’s work address the department responded to say direct approaches to staff by journalists were “inappropriate” and all press queries should be directed to its press office.

​In 2019, Ellis and her husband Cormac Feehan took over the running of Quinn’s pub via a lease. Ellis told the Law Society last year that “they had spent a lot of money on it” and “they were doing very well”.

However, the pub was closed shortly after St Patrick’s Day following a garda visit to the premises.

A number of complaints were made that the pub was operating without a valid licence.

A garda spokesman said: “Gardaí are investigating an alleged breach of the Intoxicating Liquor Act at a licensed premises in Leitrim in March 2023. It is for any individual licensee to ensure they are operating in compliance with their licence.”

Asked if gardaí were investigating the missing client funds or the false accounting at Ellis’s practice, he said: “Gardaí in Leitrim are making enquiries into a matter reported to them, by a non-affected thirrd party. This report continues to be assessed.”

Ellis did not respond to a request to comment.

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