Call for prompt trials and an end to unlimited free legal aid

Free legal aid must be restricted and all trials should be heard within six months, former Garda Chief Superintendent Pat McGee has said.

Call for prompt trials and an end to unlimited free legal aid

Mr McGee, who retired on Saturday after 38 years on the force, also said crimes by defendants on bail must be properly addressed and he called for a taskforce similar to CAB to tackle cross-border crime.

“There should be a limit on the number of times a person is allowed to get free legal aid,” he said. “What is the sense in a person appearing on maybe his 47th appearance in court, still being allowed free legal aid?

“Okay, give him the opportunity if he can’t afford a solicitor on the first couple of occasions but certainly there should be a cut-off point.”

After that, the former garda chief suggested: “Maybe give it to him in the form of a loan that is deducted from whatever payments he is getting... There is no deterrent if you can get somebody in to defend you on each and every occasion ad infinitum... We, society, are paying to defend people who have absolutely no intention of ever changing and we need to wake up to that very, very quickly.”

Mr McGee said some defendants refused bail get bail in a higher court “and go out and commit quite serious offences. We need to protect society better.”

He also said waiting times for trials have to be cut to no more than six months, , as witness can be left years waiting and then asked to recall events.

He said a dedicated cross-border unit is needed to tackle crime including fuel laundering.

“I support the idea of a cross-border task force based on the same lines as CAB which would involve Gardai, Customs, the PSNI and customs from the North targeting particular individuals involved for years in cross-border criminality,” said Mr McGee.

More in this section

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.

Puzzles logo
IE-logo

Puzzles hub

Visit our brain gym where you will find simple and cryptic crosswords, sudoku puzzles and much more. Updated at midnight every day.