Tribunal legal fees must be tackled, but not at expense of justice - Ó Snodaigh
Responding to reports this morning that 80% of total tribunals costs result from legal fees, with individual barristers earning several million euros each, Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh said legislation must be accelerated to address this issue but restated that the Government’s current proposed legislation is unacceptable.
The Dublin South-Central TD said: “The Minister for Justice published a Tribunals of Inquiry Bill last year and it was provisionally scheduled to commence passage through the Dáil last January. That never happened and the issue has since dropped off the government's agenda.
“The Bill itself is highly problematic for those seeking tribunals in an effort to uncover the truth. The huge quantity of taxpayer’s money going to wealthy legal professionals is a major concern that must be addressed promptly. However, the Government must not be allowed to use the issue of costs as a Trojan horse to introduce a Bill that, as it stands, follows in the footsteps of similar British legislation the aim of which was to deny a full inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane.
“The British Government’s Inquiries Act 2005 amounts to another effort to limit the scope of future inquiries into the cases of those murdered by state collusion. It has rightly been condemned by a range of civil and human rights organisations. We believe that the Tribunals of Inquiry Bill published by Minister McDowell, and agreed by this Government, attempts to do the same. Rather than furthering the cause of justice this Bill would instead limit the potential of future public inquiries to uncover the full truth.
“It would effectively give the Government power over whether to establish a Tribunal of Inquiry at all, its terms of reference and its members. It would grant the Government the power to suspend or dissolve a Tribunal for unlimited reasons and to prevent the publication of a Tribunal’s report. This is completely unacceptable and will not instil any confidence amongst either the general public or more crucially those victims of injustice seeking the truth.”