Doherty Slams Government over Legal Aid Changes involving Personal Insolvency Cases

Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty has criticized the Government for approving recent changes to Legal Aid involving Personal Insolvency Cases which removes the debtor's automatic provision of funding for a barrister.

Speaking during a Dáil debate yesterday (Wednesday) in which he described the changes as an attack on the most vulnerable and a coup for Banks and Vulture funds, the Donegal TD urged Government to reverse the move.

Teachta Doherty said:

“This is an absolute scandal. We need to call a spade a spade. This is an attack on vulnerable people - people who find themselves insolvent.

“These are people who are going through the insolvency process, and people in respect of whose arrangements a PIP has recommended restructuring, which has been blocked by the bank.

“The Government has now restricted the fees available in such a way as to prevent those individuals enlisting the services of a barrister to fight the banks that are trying to block the arrangements suggested by the PIPs.

“When these reviews under section 115A of the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 do come before the courts, 65% of debtors are successful. They actually beat the banks.

“That is probably the core of this change because the Government is in the pockets of the banks, it is on the side of the banks and it is always against the struggling debtors.

“We see that in a number of the initiatives this Government has brought in. This is scandalous and needs to be reversed. We need a level playing field.

“We cannot have a situation in which banks march in with teams of barristers and solicitors and in which vulnerable debtors - who, as I have said, usually win in these cases - are allowed to be left in vulnerable positions.

“I call on the Government to reverse this decision, even at this late stage, and to make sure that there is equality of representation in our courts.”