If I could turn back time: Access to lawyers after DPP v Barry Doyle

19/04/2017

In the April 2017 Gazette, Dara Robinson looks at the impact of a Supreme Court judgment on suspects’ rights.

For the last three years, suspects detained by the Gardaí for questioning about an offence have enjoyed the entitlement, or so it seemed, to have their solicitor present at all times during their interrogation.

Following key European cases, and after the combined cases of Gormley and White were reviewed in the Supreme Court in 2014, the state moved to establish a framework for clients to access legal advice during Garda interviews. The system got up and running fairly smoothly, writes Dara Robinson, a partner in the Dublin law firm Sheehan & Partners. It is still in place at the time of writing.

A potential bombshell

However on 18 January 2017, a potential bombshell landed. In the case of DPP v Barry Doyle (an appeal against conviction for murder), the Supreme Court ruled that suspects were not entitled to representation during interviews.

The judgment written by Justice Peter Charleton is clear and unambiguous, writes Robinson. However, it has been met with a stony silence from all sides. So far, there has been no recorded instance of a suspect being refused the presence of his solicitor, despite this clear expression of the law.

In a ‘viewpoint’ article for the March Gazette, Robinson discusses the case that prompted this judicial bombshell, and asks if there is really any appetite within the state to turn back the clock.

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