In the 1960s there were about sixty barristers practising in Northern Ireland. It was the preserve of the rich and connected. I was at Queen’s law faculty in the late 1960s when one of these people came and told us not to go to the bar because it was “overcrowded”. I did other things for ten years, then studied at the Institute for Professional Legal Studies. At this point there were about 180 barristers practising. A man called Kennedy came and told us not to go to the Bar because it was “overcrowded”. A few years later his daughter came to the Bar. There are now about 700 barristers in practice , trying to get a piece of a pie which has shrunk by probably a third, since the 1980s. Legal aid for civil proceedings is rare and the fees paid for serious criminal cases have seriously diminished. The Chief Justice suggested that a solution to the absence of legal aid could be that young unemployed barristers might do cases for free.
Readers may remember a recent campaign by the profession, complaining about fee cuts and suggesting that it was the end of justice as we know it. Humpty Dumpty- like, the profession was led up the hill and back down again.
Now the Minister of Justice, when told of a muttering by the legal profession will think what Stalin said when told of the Pope’s criticism: “how many divisions has the Pope?”
The implications for young barristers are dire. More importantly, the outcome for the public is that they will not be properly represented by experienced counsel. Maybe not an issue until you are falsely accused of a crime.
Worse, we head back to the days of the 1960s when a friend was told by an old hand, who eventually became a Lord Justice of Appeal, “there seem to be a lot of cloth cap barristers arriving”.
Cloth cap no more.
This man was the subject of an unfair prosecution and he had his conviction overturned, after a long battle.
He is understandably aggrieved about that and other matters.
He has made a number of complaints and he alleges that the Establishment has ganged up against him.
It would not be the first time in recent memory that the Establishment has done this.
It will be important for the legal system, in all its guises , to show that he has received good representation and a fair hearing at every turn. Otherwise all other campaigns by lawyers , for fair fees and for justice , are for naught.
I hope people out there are listening…..
Whilst the enquiry carried out by the NI Affairs Committee has , as suggested; ‘shone a light’ into a dark corner, it cannot hope to illuminate the true horror of “the peace process”.
OTRs, letters, RPMs and secret deals combined to ensure that a huge swathe of PIRA criminals remained untouched and the City of London remained un-bombed. That imperative was sold to the masses of Northern Ireland, [softened up by placemen, selected over the years], as the “Good Friday Agreement”, what a heart tugging nomenclature. For years the state had trawled the old Poly at Jordanstown for third rate academics whom the could put into positions of trust. They were relied on to influence their respective flocks that we should all forgive and forget. The architects of this plan in London, were clever Oxbridge types who had studied the activities of Mao, Hitler and Stalin. They have subsequently gone on to deal with Afghanistan and Libya.
The key to unlocking this puzzle is the fact that many PIRA commanders were state agents and informers for many years. Thus the state is vulnerable to legal challenge.
The idea that the state did not know of PIRA activities [participating informants] is laughable.
I , along with others, am getting there , inch by inch.
If the Westminster Executive would bend the rules in this instance, what else would they do to protect the stockbrokers?
It is interesting that the NI Attorney General felt that the judgement of Sweeney J. might be open to challenge in Europe. Of course, if Downey was another state informer, that would not be a path that the state would want to tread.
But that , given that the post Belfast agreement legal system in Northern Ireland is packed with safe pro-agreement puppets, Europe is the only option.
What does the Republic have five of that the North has none of?
Women in five senior posts.
Chief of police
Director of Public Prosecutions
High Court Judge
Perhaps the Republic is a far more liberal and egalitarian State than the North, or is there another explanation?