FLAC backs barristers’ strike

FLAC backs barristers' strike

Eilis Barry

Legal rights charity FLAC has said it “unequivocally supports” next week’s one-day strike by criminal barristers.

The Bar Council has called on criminal barristers to withdraw services on 3 October 2023 to pile pressure on government ministers over fee restoration, with fees remaining below 2002 levels in nominal terms.

Eilis Barry, chief executive of FLAC, said: “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.

Ms 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.”

Over 700 people have signed the Bar Council’s Fair is Fair letter endorsing the withdrawal of services.

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