Attorney General Paul Gallagher acted privately for former directors of Independent News & Media (INM) in a hearing with High Court inspectors, days before the government announced only its work to private client as a lawyer had ceased.
Knowledgeable sources said Mr Gallagher, a senior government lawyer licensed to work in private, was known in legal circles to have participated in a very recent cross-examination of a witness before inspectors investigating the cases. MNI affairs. Inspectors conducted closed-door hearings, sometimes on a Saturday to facilitate witnesses.
The disclosure of Mr Gallagher’s recent participation in a hearing in the INM case is likely to intensify the opposition’s clamor for government responses to the nature and extent of the lawyer’s private work.
The government said last Thursday that Gallagher had “no continuing private professional obligations” but did not say when those obligations ended. An authoritative source, who had said the day before that Mr Gallagher’s work for former MNI directors was continuing, said after the government statement that work had ceased, but did not say when or why .
The statement follows an article in The Irish Times about his work for former directors of INM, one of whom – Len O’Hagan – remains on the board of Mediahuis Ireland, the Belgian company which acquired the company in 2019.
There was no response from the government on Sunday after being asked when exactly the attorney general stopped working for the former directors of the MNI.
The inspectors were appointed by the High Court to conduct a company law investigation into the INM following a request from the Office of the Director of Company Law Enforcement, the national enforcement authority. business law. The company, which is the state’s largest private media organization, is the publisher of the Irish Independent and the Sunday Independent.
Mr Gallagher’s private work for former directors of the INM has led to allegations of conflict of interest from the opposition because the lawyer is the legal adviser to the government and the chief legal officer of the State. Although the government has dismissed the conflict of interest allegations, Taoiseach Micheál Martin is under pressure to expose the extent of Mr. Gallagher’s private work and how the government gave him permission to continue.
Labor TD Ged Nash submitted a detailed parliamentary question to the Taoiseach, seeking answers on all the private work undertaken by Mr Gallagher since he became attorney general for the second time in June 2020. The Social Democrats and the Sinn Féin also questioned his private work.
Mr Nash asked the Taoiseach to define “the full title and record number of each set of court proceedings, including commissions, inquiries and inspections in which the attorney general has acted as counsel since his appointment.”
The TD also wants Mr. Martin to set out the procedure in which Mr. Gallagher “has acted as counsel for any party (other than the state or a government minister or any other state party since his appointment), whether in person or virtually. hearing “.
He researched the dates of the Attorney General’s appearance, the date on which such a hearing date was set and the identity of the investigating lawyer, and asked whether these cases were heard by means of virtual or in-person hearings.
Mr. Nash asked the Taoiseach to say who authorized such work and whether the authorization was given on a general basis. He asked whether “the authorizing parties knew the names of the clients”, the nature of the professional advice or services provided and the identity of the authorizing lawyer in each case.
He also asked if there were any cases where “no such authorization has been obtained and / or refused”.