04 Mar, 2024
1 min read

EU dispatch: Irish criminal barristers to strike over legal aid funding – JURIST

James Joseph is UK Senior Correspondent for JURIST.

On May 2, 2023, Irish criminal barristers plan to go on strike in response to the crisis in funding for Irish criminal legal aid. The barristers are protesting the failure of the Irish government to comply with Ireland’s “Rule of Law obligations” by downing tools in what they deem a necessary measure. The strike is due to the level of fees paid to practitioners in the District Court, which has reached a crisis point. This lack of funding is concerning and comparable to a parallel situation in England.

Darren Lalor and Luigi Rea, both Irish criminal barristers who have been campaigning on this issue, argue that the Irish State has neglected barristers practicing at District Court level by holding the overdue restoration of cuts imposed long ago in that time of financial emergency. Fee rates have remained unchanged since 2002, rendering them insufficient. Lalor suggests that this lack of funding has made Ireland the “laughing stock” of the European Union and that “Leprechaun legal aid” does not provide adequate funding. Anyone accused of a crime qualifying for legal aid defense services should be entitled to adequate funding.

Mr. Lalor told Irish Legal News that: “I fully support a withdrawal of services. The sooner the better.” In official communications seen by JURIST Lalor claims that “The Irish state has not taken any steps to deal with its failure to bring Ireland into compliance with the Rule of Law funding requirements”.

The Irish Central Bank’s Governor, Gabriel Makhlouf, wrote in the Financial Times on February 19 that financial growth in Ireland over the year was expected to be “more than treble growth in the overall EU,” which is seen as an affront to those working to uphold the rule of law

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