Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Dara Calleary has urged the Government to use the National Internship Scheme announced today to help reduce the backlog for Legal Aid Services.
Deputy Calleary has asked the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter and the Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton to provide internship places at the Legal Aid Board for unemployed solicitors.
Deputy Calleary commented, “There are many qualified solicitors out there who are looking to return to the jobs market, gain valuable experience and put their skills to good use. Meanwhile, the Legal Aid Board is struggling with a major increase in demand for its services and its staff are trying to tackle an enormous backlog of requests for help.
“It is simply unacceptable that there are currently around 3,800 people waiting for legal aid services. The delays in the system can cause great distress at a time when many of these people clearly need support. We need to address this backlog immediately, and it seems to me that one of the most obvious ways is to bring the National Internship Scheme to the Legal Aid Board.
“I raised this issue with the Justice Minister Alan Shatter in the Dáil last week, asking him to consult with his colleague, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, about the possibility of utilising the new internship scheme to assist the Legal Aid Board in addressing the delays in civil law cases. In response, Minister Shatter agreed to discuss the matter with the Chairperson of the legal Aid Board.
“This is a win-win situation for everyone involved. Solicitors seeking work will benefit from valuable experience, the Legal Aid Board will have well-qualified extra hands on deck, and those 3,800 people who are on waiting lists will get the help they need faster. I am urging Minister Shatter to press ahead with discussions on this matter.”