Press Release 06-03-2018
Independent TD Mattie McGrath has described the amounts provided by government to cover the costs associated with Civil and Criminal Legal Aid as utterly obscene and unjustifiable. Deputy McGrath was speaking after the Minister for Justice, Charlie Flanagan, confirmed to him in a parliamentary reply that over €605 million has been allocated for legal aid since 2011:
“These numbers are simply astonishing and demonstrate that absolutely nothing is done being done to reduce the outlandish fees being paid to provide this service.
The information I have received show that the costs for criminal aid legal for every year covering the period 2011-2017 ranged from €49 million to €58 million.
This in a time when Garda stations were being closed left right and centre throughout the country and when garda overtime was under constant review and scrutiny.
The average cost per annum during the same period for Civil Legal Aid show that it has never dropped below €30 million. Indeed there is a €9 million increase from the costs in 2011 to those incurred in 2017.
The former Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald promised as far back as September 2016 that the Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 was being reviewed and that the Department was preparing new legislation to update the law and introduce powers to secure contributions from defendants, more rigorous means testing and stronger sanctions against abuses.
It is blatantly obvious that none of this has come to pass.
Instead what we are witnessing is the fleecing of the nation’s resources by a criminal element and the absolute abuse of a system that although designed to protect rights is now radically undermining the safety of entire communities,” concluded Deputy McGrath.