Taxpayers pick up €1 million legal bill for Waterford courts
Taxpayers have forked out over €1 million in legal fees and Director of Public Prosecutions costs amassed in Waterford courts since 2015. These figures have come to light following a Freedom Of Information request from Waterford Live.
The cost of providing expenses to state solicitors as well as legal representation in the county's courts in the three years from 2015 to the end of 2017 has cost the public purse an overall total of €1,045,662.
Over the course of those three years, €690,000 was spent on fees and allowances for the State Solicitor based on prosecutions in Waterford. A further €354,000 was paid in counsel fees to barristers dealing with DPP cases in court.
Despite state solicitor fees remaining static at around the €230,000 per year mark since 2015, the figures obtained by the Waterford Live show that the fees paid to legal representatives in the aforementioned cases tried in Waterford courts are actually falling year on year.
In 2015, €126,000 was paid in counsel fees, and while it was largely similar at €127,000 in 2016, the amount fell to €101,000 last year.
Over the same period, Waterford City, Tramore and Dungarvan Garda Stations sent 922 files to the DPP for direction. They sent back 379 with directions not to prosecute. They directed that 216 be prosecuted on indictment at higher courts and 326 be dealt with summarily at district court level.
Those indictment offences relate mostly to serious crimes like assault, burglary, sexual offences and drugs.
The figures seen by Waterford Live show that the DPP directed prosecution on indictment or summarily at the District Court for 93 drug-related offences, 37 firearms offences, 170 assaults and related offences, and 88 burglary related files over the three-year period.