Mahon Tribunal could cost 250m euros

It has emerged that the final bill for the Republic's longest running public inquiry could be as much as 250m (£209m) euros.

The Mahon Tribunal was set up in 1997 as the then Flood Tribunal.

Its initial remit was to investigate allegations of corrupt payments to politicians for the re-zoning of part of north Dublin for development.

The tribunal is expected to publish its long-awaited final report in the coming weeks.

The tribunal's terms of reference were later extended to all allegations about payments to politicians and officials in connection with a number of re-zonings in the Dublin area.

The secretary general of the Department of the Environment, Geraldine Tallon, told a Dail committee on Thursday that the final bill could range from 204m euros to 250m euros.

The Tribunal of Inquiry Into Certain Planning Matters and Payments, as it is officially known, last sat in December 2008 after 917 days of public hearings with 400 witnesses.

However, an Irish Government TD this week called for clarity on when the Mahon Tribunal will report its findings.

Fine Gael TD, Simon Harris, said: "There is an obligation to ensure the findings of the tribunal are published as soon as possible, and if there is a reason for the delay in publication the tribunal must let the Irish people know what that is.

"The taxpayer, no doubt, will be left with a substantial bill from this tribunal, the very least we can expect is that its findings will be made public as quickly as possible.

"We need to put an end to what has been a long, drawn out and expensive process."