IT’S nearly two years since Michael and Niamh McDowell brought Roscommon CC to heel with their legal action compelling the council to rescind its impertinent blocking of planning permission for the McDowells’ country retreat in Roosky. Now, the legal bill for this confrontation has been totted up and it totals just over €400,000 for Michael’s chums in the Law Library and attendant solicitors. Earlier this year the council paid off its legal fees and they amounted to €122,512.50 to James O’Reilly SC, Patrick Butler SC and Junior Counsel Conleth Bradley BL, plus €76,876.04 to county solicitor Dermot MacDermot, amounting in total to €199,388.54. Now McDowell’s legal team, Paul Gallagher SC, Michael Collins SC, David Barniville BL, instructed by solicitors Michael McInerney & Co, have totted up the cost of their valuable time. And would you believe it, it comes to €199,384.09 – a difference of less than a fiver out of a total of €400,000 circa for both sides. The justice minister had let it be known from the roof tops that his assault on the tiny kingdom of Roscommon would also include a suit for negligence in the matter and he accused the council of acting with “misfeasance” (!) in obstructing his holiday home.
This action could well have cost another six-figure sum in legal costs as well as swingeing damages for the trauma caused to the anticipated tranquillity and peace of mind of the McDowells. As things stand, the legal bill to date that must be picked up by the 55,000 strong local citizenry amounts to over €7 for every man, woman and child in the county.
However, the good news is that McDowell’s despotic tendencies are tempered wth a benevolence hitherto unrecognised and the misfeasance action has been shelved.