Waiting lists for Legal Aid services have soared in Tipperary, with residents in facing a wait of up to 8 months for initial access to Legal Aid.
The stark figures were confirmed by the Justice Minister Alan Shatter this week in reply to questions from Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson Dara Calleary.
Local Fianna Fáil Councillor Seámus Hanafin commented: “It is deeply distressing for the people of North Tipperary who are in urgent need of legal support for a range of reasons are now being told that they are facing delays of up to 8 months for access to the service. The delays in our area are one of the biggest in the country”.
“The most frustrating element is that this is completely unnecessary,” said Cllr Hanafin. “The Legal Aid Board is struggling with a major increase in demand for its services and its staff are doing everything they can to tackle an enormous backlog of requests for help.
Meanwhile, there are hundreds of unemployed and newly qualified solicitors and legal professionals out there who would welcome the opportunity to gain professional experience at the board.
“Almost a year ago, Fianna Fáil appealed to the Government to extend the National Internship Scheme to the Legal Board to provide internship places for unemployed solicitors. In light of these latest figures, the Government must seriously consider this suggestion. There are hundreds of people in Tipperary who need legal help for whatever reason and they cannot wait around for a year before even getting a foot in the door,” said Cllr Hanafin.