Government urged to increase barristers’ fees to protect human rights

Government urged to increase barristers' fees to protect human rights

The government should invest €3.3 million in restoring legal aid fees for barristers in order to more effectively protect the rights of those in custody, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said.

The human rights organisation today launched its pre-budget submission, which calls on ministers to ring-fence a total of €8.6 million to help secure and guarantee key human rights for 2023 and beyond.

The submission focuses on six areas where the ICCL believes “modest spending … would represent a huge return on investment”:

  1. Additional resources for the coroners’ system would provide compassion and justice for the bereaved, at a cost of €1.3m.
  2. A digital system for appointing legal aid lawyers similar to a very successful system in Belgium to ensure the right to legal defence is guaranteed would cost €500,000.
  3. An information and education campaign to ensure that those at most risk of being victims of hate crime are protected would cost €450,000.
  4. The restoration of legal aid fees for barristers to more effectively protect the rights of those in custody would cost €3.3m.
  5. An external review of the Data Protection Commission, leading to a safer internet for all, would cost €300,000.
  6. Additional resources for the new office of the Inspector of Places of Detention would cost €2.55m and ensure that the rights of those in detention are upheld.

Liam Herrick, ICCL director, said: “In Budget 2023, we are asking the government to commit to a very modest investment in Ireland’s human rights infrastructure.

“In many cases, our requests will actually save the public money in the long term as investment now will prevent expensive investigations and legal cases in the future. The government has a duty to protect human rights. These rights aren’t abstract and require spending to ensure that they are protected and realised.”

Doireann Ansbro, head of legal and policy at ICCL, added: “The vindication of rights is only as strong as the institutions that can fulfil and defend them. Our asks focus on either reforming or better equipping institutions which either act as watchdogs for our rights or serve to defend our civil liberties.

“The total amount we are seeking to be invested in 2023 is roughly €8.6 million. This is 0.01 per cent of the projected government spend on Budget Day. These investments will strengthen the institutions which uphold and protect our human rights in a way that is meaningful for all of us.”

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