The new President of the Law Society of Ireland, Cork solicitor, Simon Murphy, has called for adequate funding of the justice system, to protect access to justice for all citizens, to be an issue in the upcoming general election.
“We are still reeling following years of cutbacks in our courts and justice services,” says Simon Murphy. “The Courts Service budget alone has been slashed by 40% in recent years.”
“Since 2008, seventy-seven court venues have closed and others, such as Skibbereen courthouse, are still under threat. Funding cuts around the country have led to delays in access to justice for citizens, especially in rural areas.”
“In the latest Comptroller and Auditor General report, we see that there was an underspend of over €24m for Justice and Equality within the allocated budget of €324m in 2014. These savings should be reapplied to core public-facing justice services, in particular the courts, rather than simply absorbed into general Government coffers.”
“My presidential year coincides with the coming general election. The Law Society intends to make funding for justice an issue of national debate and attention, in addition to more familiar critical issues such as health, education and housing.”
“The Government’s latest Capital Plan has earmarked modest funding for justice including €10m for Courts refurbishments and the development of a Family Law and Children’s Courts building. These announcements, while welcome, do not nearly go far enough to undo the damage to the fabric of justice caused during the financial crisis.”
“I am honoured to take up the role of President of the Law Society and I look forward to leading the solicitors’ profession over the next year. As a profession, we believe strongly in the principles of fairness, justice and equality for all and it is vital that the justice system is adequately funded to protect those principles.”
President Simon Murphy
Simon Murphy began his term as President of the Law Society of Ireland for the year 2015/16, with effect from Friday 6 November 2015. Simon Murphy is a partner in the long-established law firm Barry M O’Meara & Son, 18 South Mall, Cork. He will serve a one-year term as President of the 15,000-strong solicitors’ profession until November 2016.
On his election, Simon Murphy, said “It is a great honour to be the elected leader of the solicitors’ profession in a time of considerable change. We expect the imminent passing into law of the Legal Services Regulation Bill, which will change many of the ways we are regulated and do business. I am also proud of the fact that we are the first legal profession in the world in which women are the majority.”
“We are a diverse, dynamic, confident profession ready to meet all challenges capably, just as we have throughout our history.”
Simon originally comes from Cork City, and now lives in Fountainstown, near Crosshaven. He is the eldest of four sons, born to Judge AG Murphy (deceased) and Dorothea (née Coldrick). He is married to Fiona, also a solicitor. He has one daughter, Jennifer.
Simon was educated in CBC secondary school in Cork and graduated from University College Cork with a BCL law degree. Apprenticed to John O’Meara of Barry O’Meara & Son (the firm he has stayed with throughout his legal career), he also credits another partner in the firm, Jack Phelan, for taking him under his wing and imparting to him the valuable skills of crisis management.
Simon was one of the first groups of students to enter the then newly-opened Blackhall Place, and he qualified as a solicitor in 1984. At the age of 26 he was invited onto the council of the Southern Law Association by John Jermyn (of law firm Ronan Daly Jermyn) where he subsequently served as secretary and president. In 1998 he was nominated as a delegate member of the Law Society Council. His first election to the Council of the Law Society was in 2000. He has served continuously between councils of both bodies for an unbroken period of 30 years.
Mr Murphy has served as chair and vice-chair on several of the Society’s main committees, including the Regulation of Practice Committee, the Complaints and Client Relations Committee, and the Education Committee, among others.