Law Society to make access to justice an election issue
The Law Society of Ireland will work to make adequate funding for the justice system a key issue in the Irish general election, incoming president Simon Murphy has said.
Mr Murphy, who officially began his term as President of the Law Society of Ireland on Friday, has pledged to challenge cuts to courts funding and legal aid during the election year.
He said: “We are still reeling following years of cutbacks in our courts and justice services. The Courts Service budget alone has been slashed by 40 per cent in recent years.
“Since 2008, seventy-seven court venues have closed and others, such as Skibbereen courthouse, are still under threat. Funding cuts around the country have led to delays in access to justice for citizens, especially in rural areas.
“In the latest Comptroller and Auditor General report, we see that there was an underspend of over €24m for Justice and Equality within the allocated budget of €324m in 2014. These savings should be reapplied to core public-facing justice services, in particular the courts, rather than simply absorbed into general Government coffers.
“My presidential year coincides with the coming general election. The Law Society intends to make funding for justice an issue of national debate and attention, in addition to more familiar critical issues such as health, education and housing.”
He added: “I am honoured to take up the role of President of the Law Society and I look forward to leading the solicitors’ profession over the next year. As a profession, we believe strongly in the principles of fairness, justice and equality for all and it is vital that the justice system is adequately funded to protect those principles.”
Mr Murphy is a Cork-based solicitor and a partner in law firm Barry M O’Meara & Son. He will serve as President of the Law Society until November 2016.