Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Questions (495)

Denis Naughten

Question:

495. Deputy Denis Naughten asked the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs if she will set out in tabular form, by reference to each named firm, the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by her Department to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered to it; if she will provide in a similar format the amount paid out in respect of legal fees during 2013 by State bodies including commercial or non-commercial and regulatory bodies established by or under her Department, to law firms in or outside the State for services rendered to it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [11866/14]

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Written answers (Question to Children)

It is the policy of my Department, and bodies under the aegis of my Department, to minimise legal fees to the greatest extent possible, and to engage external law firms only as the need arises and where the required professional expertise is not available in-house or through another state body. All contracts entered into by my Department must conform to the relevant laws and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform guidelines on Public Procurement. My Department did not pay any law firm in or outside the state in 2013 for services rendered to the Department. The data provided in the following table details fees paid to law firms in 2013 for services rendered to the Office of the Ombudsman for Children:

Department/State Body

Law Firm

Fees paid over in 2013

Office of the Ombudsman for Children

Augustus Cullen Law

€7,703

Office of the Ombudsman for Children

Ronan Daly Jermyn

€29,836.11

Office of the Ombudsman for Children

St John Solicitors

1,109.46

Under the Child and Family Agency Act, 2013, the Family Support Agency (FSA) and the National Educational Welfare Board (NEWB), both of whom were agencies under my Department in 2013, were dissolved and the service provision for these State bodies transferred to the new Child and Family Agency with effect from 1st January, 2014. Records relating to the transactions by the FSA and the NEWB with regard to their legal fees are currently held by the Child and Family Agency and I am requesting that that Agency forward the information directly to the Deputy as soon as possible. I have also requested of the Adoption Authority of Ireland that the information requested, insofar as it applies to that body, will be passed to the Deputy.