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Rule of law is ‘central theme’ for Defence Forces
Lieutenant General Seán Clancy speaking at a parchment ceremony in Blackhall Place Pic: Tommy Dickson for Jason Clarke Photography

01 Mar 2024 / law society Print

Rule of law is ‘central theme’ for Defence Forces

The head of the Defence Forces has told newly qualified solicitors that their parchment comes with a responsibility to deliver a positive impact, not only for those they represent, but also for the rule of law.

Lieutenant General Seán Clancy was speaking at a parchment ceremony in Blackhall Place (29 February), where more than 60 graduates were welcomed into the solicitors’ profession.

“Let there be no doubt that the role you play in Irish society is a public service,” he told the new solicitors, adding that they would be providing advice to some of society’s most vulnerable citizens, and that solicitors would be present at the most important milestones in people’s lives.

“The rule of law is a central theme for members of the Defence Forces across the full spectrum of our service obligations,” Lt Gen Clancy said last night.

Core values

Referring to the Defence Forces’ legal-service branch, he said that he had always been “hugely impressed” by the detailed and practical advice he had received from this team, whose uniforms did not separate them from the legal community.

He listed the core values of a solicitor as honesty, integrity, independence, confidentiality, and the avoidance of conflicts of interest.

He added, however, that these were “not just terms that you list off”, but also “behaviours you should demonstrate”.

Lt Gen Clancy said these values were real, had meaning, and “should be reflected in the day-to-day decisions you make, and the actions you take”.

Unpopular clients and causes

The President of the High Court Mr Justice David Barniville stressed the importance for solicitors of independence – freedom from undue or improper influence.

A critical element of this, he said, was the freedom of solicitors to represent unpopular clients and unpopular causes. 

“It’s also important that you’re not criticised or pilloried for acting for those unpopular clients,” Mr Justice Barniville continued.

He urged them to strongly resist attempts to denigrate or criticise lawyers for acting for unpopular clients or causes, adding that this had not yet become a feature of discourse in this country.

The High Court president urged the new solicitors to appreciate the “privileged conditions” they would enjoy in this jurisdiction, in contrast to the conditions in which colleagues worked in other areas of the world.

Earlier, the President of the Law Society Barry MacCarthy told the new solicitors that they were entering “an endlessly interesting career”.

The president described the solicitors’ profession as “thriving”, as demand for legal services grows, especially in emerging areas like intellectual property, aviation law, mediation, and arbitration.

Gazette Desk
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