Media blamed for stoking row over Legal Services Regulation Bill

Director-general Ken Murphy
Director-general Ken Murphy

A leading figure in the Law Society of Ireland has attributed a row over the Legal Services Regulation Bill to “over the top” reporting by the Irish media.

Director-general Ken Murphy, writing in the latest issue of the Law Society Gazette, criticised those who made “vituperative and unfair attacks on the Government and, in particular, on Minister Fitzgerald following the publication of the Seanad amendments to the bill”.

His remarks were firmly aimed at the Irish press, referring to a number of national newspaper headlines and an editorial in “the usually more measured Irish Times”.

Senators approved the bill on Wednesday night after a debate that saw the bill branded as “a shambles”.

Maurice Cummins, leader of the Seanad, also told the chamber: “In my time in the House, I have never seen 300 amendments being introduced on Report Stage. Many of them are amending amendments made on Committee Stage.”

It was alleged that the amendments were introduced by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald as a capitulation to objections from the Law Society and the Bar Council of Ireland.

However, Mr Murphy wrote: “In the view of the Law Society, the bill, even as passed at committee stage by the Dáil, was so full of errors, incoherencies and unintended consequences as to be unworkable.

“Having played an important role for over 60 years in applying in the public interest the legislation under which the solicitor’s regulation in Ireland is applied, we felt we knew something about the subject. We wanted to help.”

He added that Minister Fitzgerald and her officials “accepted both the Society’s bona fides and assistance in achieving the Government’s objective of creating independent regulation of the solicitors’ profession”.

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