‘Fine Gael-led governments have spent hundreds of millions on the scheme.’
Sligo News File.
While half-a-million patients are left to suffer for want of medical procedures and thousands of homeless children are forced to endure impossible living conditions, it has been claimed that hundreds of millions have been doled out on free legal aid.
Commenting on what he described as a “bonanza for lawyers,” Deputy Mattie Mattie said he understood from parliamentary questions that from 2011 to 2016, Fine Gael-led governments had spent €606 million on the free legal aid scheme.
He said, “We saw recently that a person who had appeared before the courts 102 times got free legal aid. This is a farce and must be regulated.”
When, he asked, “will we stop this gravy train and farce for the unfortunate victims of crime? They get no say, and their taxes pay for free legal aid.”
Responding, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan commented, “I will say for Deputy McGrath’s benefit that the provision of legal aid, be it civil legal aid or criminal legal aid, is a fundamental right—–”
Deputy McGrath: “Of course.”
Deputy Flanagan: “—–for people in this country who are not in a position—–”
Deputy Mattie McGrath: “What about “three strikes and you are out”?
Deputy Flanagan: “—–to afford legal representation in the private sector.”
Deputy McGrath: “A hundred times.”
Deputy Flanagan: “Regarding the recent publication of the annual report on civil legal aid, we have managed in spite of some financial difficulties to ensure that waiting lists have been reduced in the past year or more, and this will continue. As far as criminal legal aid is concerned, which I understand is the point that concerns Deputy Mattie McGrath, I assure the House that a review is ongoing in order to ensure that those who need legal aid are granted it—–”
Deputy McGrath: “How often?”