The Minister for Justice has told barristers that she will be discussing the issue of criminal legal-aid fees with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform ahead of the budget.
Earlier this year, barristers held protests outside court buildings to call for a reversal of cuts to fees imposed after the financial crisis.
“I see no good reason why those in the legal profession are left waiting for crisis-era reductions to be restored, while public and civil servants have had their pay restored,” Helen McEntee told the Bar Council of Ireland.
“None of us want to see a situation where barristers feel the need to protest on the steps of the Criminal Courts of Justice,” she said.
The minister told barristers that she recognised the vital role that they played in undertaking criminal legal-aid work, adding that she would “do my utmost” to support them in their work.
She also said that work to address the economic and other barriers facing young solicitors and barristers was “entering its final phases”.
The minister added that she hoped to bring proposals arising from that process to Government after the summer recess.
She stated that Department of Justice officials were engaging with the Legal Services Regulatory Authority, which is looking at the issue, on how best to implement reforms based on its findings.
These changes would cover legal-services education, reducing barriers to entry and increasing diversity across the professions, she told barristers.