It was reported in the Irish Independent on February 12th that the National Consumer Agency is ‘actively pursuing’ a complaint from the National Union of Journalists and the Sunday Tribune with respect to the publication of a bogus ‘Sunday Tribune’ cover on the Irish Mail on Sunday issue of February 6th. It was also reported that Associated Newspapers could face legal action under the Consumer Protection Act 2007.
The National Consumer Agency in Ireland was set up in 2007. It has a budget of €6.1 million and 42 staff. Its chief executive, Ann Fitzgerald, is paid €186,190. Fitzgerald is a former Director of Consumer Affairs. Its board includes
The United States Department of Commerce was set up in 1903. It has a budget of $6.5 billion and has a staff of 38,000. Its chief executive, Gary Locke, is paid €146,760. Locke was a two-term Governor of Washington and is the first Chinese-American to hold Cabinet rank.
The purpose of the National Consumer Agency is to ‘defend consumer interests’ and ‘embed a consumer culture’ in Ireland. Forceful advocacy, targeted research, consumer information, education and awareness programmes are the prime tools of this Agency.
Writing as a taxpayer, why is the State should become involved in a case that a multinational company of the size of Independent News & Media Plc could quite easily pursue on its own account, should it choose to do so?
It seems to me that the State has become the bearer of all risk making many of the nation’s lawyers fat, smug and unseemly prosperous while those who ought to be risk bearers can exploit the moral hazard opportunities that arise when another party pays the bills and carries the can.
The State hasn’t lifted a finger to implement the recommendations of the Competition Authority to liberate the archaic legal services sector. The absolute and total capitulation of authority by the Government to Members’ of Tribunals to determine Tribunal lawyers’ fees exposes our buffeted, put-upon nation to an estimated liability of €366 million, whenever the Tribunals finally conclude, which is as difficult to define in advance as is the date of the Islamic New Year. While that fact remains uncertain and ambiguous there was no such ambiguity when the Moriarty Tribunal paid three senior counsel €2,500 per day for 304 days in 2008, notwithstanding that the Tribunal sat in public session for an average of 20 days in the last three years.
This scale of expenditure by taxpayers on Tribunals is sufficient to pay for the parking of 200 cars belonging to members of the Bar Council in the short-term car park at Dublin Airport for 100 years, but that taxpayers are not receiving any return for their money.