CRIMINAL cases before Limerick Circuit Court were adjourned today (Tuesday) as up to 30 criminal law barristers engaged in the one-day strike action outside the Mulgrave Street court complex.
Speaking from the legal eagles’ picket-line, criminal lawyer Cian Kelly acknowledged that while “there are people at the top of the profession that are doing very well” financially, the median salary for many barristers is €46,000.
Law graduates are being tempted with “enormous money” to enter corporate law, making it “more difficult to attract the talent” to criminal law, Mr Kelly said.
“People want to be able to make a decent living at it, pay the mortgage, because everybody’s bills are going up. Barristers, are now getting paid less doing the type of cases that we were getting paid more for in 2002.”
The Government has ignored barristers’ calls for pay in line with other sectors in the criminal justice system, he claimed.
“We sit in courtrooms every day and we look around the courtroom and we see that Gardaí, prison officers, the probation services, court service staff, the judiciary, and solicitors have had their pay restored – everybody else in the courtroom, bar us, has had their pay restored and we just want a bit of parity,” Mr Kelly told the Limerick Post.
“We’re not even getting a response from the Department of Public Expenditure, which is quite frustrating.
“Today’s protest isn’t even looking for an actual immediate restoration of fees. We’re simply asking the Government to put us into a mechanism that’s limited, that has a fixed finish, and let that determine what the fees should be.
“We’re not putting a gun to anybody’s head. We’re not trying to just say we want 20 per cent or 42 per cent more. We are saying, okay, put us into put us into the scheme and we’re happy to go along with everything, we’re happy to plead our case on behalf of what we feel we add.
“The DPP herself has even said that we have contributed hugely to efficiency in the legal system, and we think that should be reflected, and that’s why we’re here today.”
More strikes are likely to follow if agreement cannot be made.