Fianna Fáil Seanad Spokesperson on Justice, Children and Youth Affairs, Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has said that the excessive delays being experienced in Legal Aid Board law centres nationwide are denying Irish citizens with equal access to justice.
New figures released to Fianna Fáil indicate that applicants seeking legal aid are waiting up to 29 weeks to be assessed for eligibility at Legal Aid Centre’s nationwide. In Longford alone there is a minimum wait of 36 weeks while in Clondalkin and Tallaght applicants wait at least 19 weeks.
Commenting on the figures, Senator Clifford-Lee said, “It is the obligation of every democratic State to uphold the importance of providing timely access to civil legal aid.
“These excessive waiting times for consultation are acting as a barrier to many victims of crime receiving legal representation through the Legal Aid Board and sufficient access to justice.
“This often means that women who have suffered domestic violence are without legal advice when engaging with the Gardaí and judicial system. Not to mention, the impact that the current restrictions to resources at Legal Aid Board centres’ is having on children and their relationship with their parents through legal matters relating to maintenance, guardianship or custody.
“The quality of justice a person receives should never depend on their income or assets, particularly when legal advice is most important in times of crisis when children, livelihoods, homes, and safety are in jeopardy.
The Dublin based Senator concluded, “The Department must recognise the need to increase access to justice for all our citizens by providing the Legal Aid Board with the increased resources required to alleviate these waiting times.”