Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Justice to clarify what measures her Department is taking to drive down the costs associated with Criminal and Civic Legal Aid. Deputy McGrath was speaking after it was revealed to him via Parliamentary question that the total expenditure on criminal legal aid for the years 2011-2015 so far amounts to over a quarter of a billion euro:
“Over the lifetime of this Government the Department of Justice has allocated an astonishing €252.2 million for the provision of Criminal Legal Aid alone.
That figure does not include the further €162.3 million spent on Civil Legal Aid.
Anybody with experience of the Courts and the legal process in this Country knows that there is significant abuse of the legal aid process with consistent and repeat offenders simply milking the system dry to the benefit of no one but the legal profession itself.
I want the Minister to clarify whether the recent Legal Services Regulation Act modifies The Criminal Justice (Legal Aid) Act 1962 to ensure that such abuse by repeat offenders is taken into account.
I want to make it absolutely clear that it is not the provision of Legal Aid that I am questioning but the absolutely exorbitant costs associated with it; because whatever you break it down this a phenomenal amount of money to be expending,” concluded Deputy McGrath.