Flac expresses solidarity with the Criminal Bar ahead of planned Withdrawal of Services
27 September 2023
Independent Access to Justice organisation Flac (Free Legal Advice Centres) has voiced its support for the withdrawal of services by members of the Criminal Bar on 3 October 2023.
The protest comes about in response to the Government’s failure to restore fees payable to barristers under the Criminal Legal Aid Scheme - which stand below 2002 levels. The Bar of Ireland have highlighted that current fee levels may lead to a “manpower crisis” and delays in the administration of criminal justice.
Flac Chief Executive, Eilis Barry, today stated:
“Flac unequivocally supports the Criminal Bar’s demand for fair pay for their work. In our recent submission to the review of Ireland’s civil legal aid scheme, we highlighted that giving effect to the right of access to justice requires ensuring timely access to specialised lawyers who are adequately remunerated for their work.
Failing to properly resource the provision of legal aid jeopardises the rights of those who come before the courts and the rule of law more generally. It also places Ireland at risk of breaching our European and international human rights obligations.”
Since 1969, Flac has campaigned for the introduction of a comprehensive system of civil legal aid in Ireland. Eilis Barry added:
“Ireland has a proud tradition of collective action to secure worker’s rights and to advance the cause of social justice. Protest and strike action have also come about in pursuit of access to justice.
In the 1970s, lawyers joined Flac on the streets to demand the introduction of a civil legal aid scheme. On more than one occasion, Flac threatened to withdraw its services rather than continue to plug the gaps left by the State’s inaction.
As we continue working to achieve improvements in Ireland’s public legal assistance infrastructure, we extend our solidarity to our colleagues at the Criminal Bar and salute their commitment to access to justice.”
Notes to Editors:
Flac (Free Legal Advice Centres) is an independent human rights and equality organisation, which exists to promote equal access to justice. As an Independent Law Centre, FLAC takes on a number of cases in the public interest each year and operates a Traveller Legal Service, Roma Legal Clinic and LGBTQI Legal Service. FLAC also operates a legal information and referral telephone line and a nationwide network of legal advice clinics where volunteer lawyers provide basic free legal advice.
Flac’s Submission to the Civil Legal Aid Review (February 2023) discusses the measures necessary to ensure the quality and effectiveness of a legal aid system at section 7.2.
For more on Flac’s history, see: The History of the Free Legal Advice Centres 1969-2003.