The Government could soon have the power to dissolve a tribunal of inquiry under new measures discussed at yesterday's cabinet meeting.
The sitting Mahon and Moriarty Tribunals are now in their eighth year and have already cost hundreds of millions of euro.
Last year, one of the Government's finance watchdogs heard that tribunals and other public inquiries have cost the State more than €400 million.
There are fears that figure could rise to more than €1 billion if they hear evidence for several more years.
Already there are measures in place to reduce the fees for barristers at the tribunals, altering it from a very lucrative daily rate to an annual salary.
Legislation was also published last year to allow for the ultimate winding down of the long-running planning inquiry, the Mahon Tribunal.
However, the Government is considering bringing in measures that will give it new powers to dissolve a tribunal, if it has the approval of the Oireachtas.
The Labour Party says it is worried about the proposal and fears the possibility of a Government alone having the power to end a tribunal.