MAHON JUDGES' EUR644K BILL FOR EXPENSES; Posh Cafe Lunches & Tolls among Claims

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JUDGES working on the Mahon Tribunal have claimed EUR644,000 in expenses including more than EUR3,000 for lunches at Avoca cafe, it was revealed yesterday.

And the legal big-wigs fought to keep their expenses claims secret by insisting that their expenses should not be made public - for security reasons.

But details of their lavish expenses were published by a Sunday newspaper yesterday which revealed how one of the three judges, all of whom earn EUR177,554-a-year, was refunded for toll charges.

They claimed for twiceweekly trips on the M4/M6 motorway between Dublin and Galway.

Toll receipts for EUR1.90 at the Ballinasloe plaza and for EUR2.90 at the Kinnegad section of the M4 motorway are among the only receipts the Courts Service has on record to account for EUR644,007 of expenses claimed by the three judges since 2002.

And it has also emerged that the legal eagles are claiming lucrative expenses that roaming Circuit Court judges are entitled to, even though they are permanently based at Dublin Castle.

The Government could have saved taxpayers hundreds of thousands of euro if it had simply fixed Dublin as the permanent base for judges Alan Mahon, Gerald Keyes and Mary Faherty.

Instead the judges have been claiming mileage and subsistence rates that are normally for judges who must travel the country.

Circuit Court judges can claim EUR121.43 if they spend a night away from home. …