Tag Archives: legal aid

Senator Barry Ward


Seanad Eireann, Dublin 2.

Fine Gael Senator and criminal barrister Barry Ward highlighted the stangnant fees and  surprising day rate for those working in his day job.

Senator Ward said:

‘It is not a secret that I am a criminal barrister and I still work in that sphere and receive criminal legal aid payments but I am not issuing this request out of self-interest. There is a sustained campaign by criminal barristers to deal with this issue because it is a serious issue for those practising criminal law.

There is a misconception out there that barristers all do very well and that they are all wealthy. It is a popular thing to say and certain media outlets love to refer to the Four Goldmines but that does not apply to criminal barristers.

Crime does not pay in that sphere and we do not work in the Four Goldmines; we work in the Criminal Courts of Justice on Parkgate Street., and in district and circuit courts throughout Ireland.

“This affects every county and community because the reality is that the amounts available to be paid under the criminal legal aid scheme were slashed at the time of the financial crisis in this country by between 30% and 50%, depending on the nature of the payment. It was a significant reduction in the pay available to people practising in the area of crime.

We should bear in mind that they were already the worst-paid lawyers in the system, including solicitors, and then their pay was cut by that amount. Everybody took that pain at the time that it was necessary during the financial crisis and they dealt with it.

Civil servants, healthcare workers and people providing professional services also took that cut; it was across the board. Yet here we are ten, 11 and 12 years later and the only people for whom pay has not been reinstated is those practising in criminal law, including solicitors and barristers. Their fees remain at the level they were cut to after the financial emergency.

Senator Ward added:

“To put this matter in context, if a barrister appears in a District Court for a case then he or she is paid a rate of €25.20 for the privilege plus VAT for however long he or she works that day. It is also a reality that he or she will also have to wait for the solicitor to receive his or her payment before the split fee is passed to the barrister.”

Minister of State at the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform Ossian Smyth replied:

‘Based on data put forward by the Bar Council of Ireland to date, there does not appear to be any compelling evidence that the reduction in fees since 2009 has led to significant recruitment or retention issues or to a shortage of counsel prepared to do criminal work to the extent that the operation of the criminal justice system is significantly hampered.’



This afternoon.

Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

Maurice and Phyllis McHugh who lost their only child, Caroline, in the 1981 Stardust disaster protest outside the Dail.

They joined other families calling on the Department of Justice to grant legal aid for inquests into the deaths of their relatives.

Via RTE News:

The matter was raised in the Seanad by Sinn Féin Senator Lynn Boylan who said the legal aid route was not suitable and families should not be means tested as it was causing “huge hurt” and risks sewing division between families.

In response, Minister of State for Public Health Frank Feighan told the Seanad that some families exceed the income limits enforced by the legal aid board….

Call for Stardust families to be granted legal aid for inquests (RTÉ)


From top: The Stardust commemoration last Saturday: Gary Gannon on the plinth at Leinster House yesterday

This afternoon.

Dáil Eireann.

Further to a row over legal aid that may delay the start of the The Stardust fire inquests, due to begin in May….

….Darragh Mackin, solicitor for the families, said he had been unable to instruct barristers as the Department of Justice has not released any funding despite his application for their legal aid being approved.

Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon told deputies:

“The delay in the commencement of the Stardust Inquest – due to the Department of Justice’s refusal to release funds – is absolutely unacceptable. Releasing funding to allow the legal team of the families to carry out research and preparation is essential.

“The Stardust Inquest will be one of the largest ever to be conducted in the State. It is vital that resources are provided in advance so that the families’ legal team can carry out research and preparations. There needs to be special arrangements for large-scale inquests like this. We should be following the good practice established at the Hillsborough Inquest.

“I am calling on the Minister for Justice to immediately meet with the legal representative of the families to resolve the issue of funding so that the inquest can begin without more delays.”

Previously: Stardust fire inquests delayed over legal aid row (Irish Times, February 13)


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Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy

The Irish Times reports:

Legal aid has been assigned to Anti-Austerity Alliance TD Paul Murphy in relation to his trial on charges of falsely imprisoning Tánaiste Joan Burton during a water charges protest almost 18 months ago.

A trial date has not yet been fixed for Mr Murphy (32), with an address at The Copse, Woodpark, Ballinteer.

…A solicitor acting for Mr Murphy on Thursday said he was making an application for legal aid and handed in a statement of means. He said the State was on notice and had no objection. He said the case could last four to six weeks.

Judge Melanie Greally said based on the average weekly income in the documentation she would assign legal aid. The figures in the documentation were not disclosed in open court.


TD Paul Murphy assigned legal aid for Jobstown protest trial (Irish Times)

Leah Farrell/Rollingnews