Seanad debates

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

3:00 am

Photo of Thomas ByrneThomas Byrne (Fianna Fail)

Anticipating what we might say and obtaining legal advice is not right and is the wrong road to take. We are allowed to raise issues of public importance to the State and the taxpayer.

Will the Leader inquire of the Minister for Justice and Equality when the legal services Bill will be published? It was promised a week ago but, since then, apparently, a Labour Party document has been circulating which seeks to water it down. I have searched the website but it does not appear to have been published yet.

I want to partially commend the Minister, Deputy Shatter, on how he dealt with the Bar Council. It was very wrong of the Bar Council to lobby the IMF in regard to a matter which is within the sovereignty of this Parliament of Dáil and Seanad. It is important to remember, given all the talk from the Government of losing our sovereignty, including economic sovereignty, that we do have sovereignty and can decide how to regulate our legal services.

It appears the Minister, Deputy Shatter, is not going far enough in this legislation, that he has given in to vested interests and that many of the proposed reforms he listed are merely being shunted off into this new super-quango, the legal services board. Whatever it is called, it will be a HSE for lawyers. It will do all the things the Law Society and Bar Council already do but it will also have the power to consider reform, rather than having the Government actually grasp the nettle and reform the issues itself. It will not do that because it is under pressure from the Labour Party, which has a history, going back to the Personal Injuries Assessment Board legislation, of standing up for the Bar Council ahead of the interests of the taxpayer.


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