Statement: Free Legal Advice Centres report indicates serious barriers to accessing justice

Patrick Costello TD, the Green Party’s justice spokesperson has raised deep concerns about finding in FLAC’s 2021 annual report released today. The report indicates an overwhelming and often unmet demand for legal aid amongst individuals and families under pressure and in distress.

Reacting to the report, Costello said: “This important data from FLAC indicates Ireland’s justice system is operating on two tiers. The haves and the have nots. The inadequacies of the legal aid system in this state represent serious shortcomings for access to justice that is fundamental in a democracy.”

Costello continued: “We already know there is difficulties in the courts system, particularly the family courts, with sprawling case lists and a shortage of judges. This is especially true at District Court level, the level most people will engage with, where timely hearing of cases is a growing problem”.

The Dublin South Central TD said: “FLAC have identified large gaps in the provision of legal aid notably regarding employment law. The thresholds to qualify for legal aid are also leaving individuals and families susceptible to enormous legal bills or having to represent themselves where legal aid isn’t available” Costello concluded.