Donegal solicitor wants change to legal aid system

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A Donegal solicitor has written to the Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter calling for a complete overhaul of the free legal aid criminal defence system in Ireland.

Dessie Shiels from Letterkenny, says there should be no legal aid for certain criminals, including those who attack others on our streets; steal from the homes of the elderly and weak or those who drink to oblivion and then mow down innocent victims on our roads.

Mr. Shiels says he is treating his letter to the Minister as an ‘open’ letter so the matter may be discussed publicly and the issues raised addressed.

“If these criminals are big enough and bad enough to assault, rob and destroy the lives of decent people in our society then they should be big enough and bad enough to pay for their own legal defences,” the solicitor said.

He added that the free legal aid system “also serves to enrich a very limited section of the legal profession who effectively specialise in legal aid criminal defence work.”

Mr. Shiels said he is “somewhat bemused” that Garda resources are being dramatically cut whilst at the same time, funding remains available for the free defence of all manner of criminal matters. “My county of Donegal has suffered a recent spate of burglaries and other crimes but as recently as last week, five rural Garda stations were closed in Donegal,” he said.

Dessie Shiels is the author of the Civil Litigation textbook “Abuse of Process – unjust and improper conduct of Civil Litigation in Ireland”, published in 2002.


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