In the current depressing economic times, people are getting angry. Unfortunately for most they have no avenue open to them to vent this anger and they end up letting it well up inside them causing dreadful health and indeed mental health problems. The ultimate of course is when they’re pushed entirely over the edge and end up taking their own life. Hence we have the dreadful amounts of suicide we see in the Ireland of today. An article worth reading is in the Irish Independent written by Niamh Horan– 14 July 2013. I am taking the liberty of quoting the article in its entirety as it’s a powerful statement of the facts as we see them today…
A Leading psychiatrist is writing to banks on behalf of vulnerable patients, telling them he will hold them responsible in the event of a patient’s suicide.
Dr Ivor Browne says he has been seeking out the names of bank staff responsible for the pressure his patients are under before issuing them with the formal notice.
Dr Browne, former chief psychiatrist of he Eastern Health Board, said the action is “making waves” in favour of
patients who can no longer cope with mounting pressure. “I am hearing people who are being hassled and who are being threatened that their homes will be repossessed,” Dr Browne said.
“I am writing letters to the banks holding them personally responsible if this man commits suicide.”
“Unless you can make them take personal responsibility, it is very difficult to get at them,” he said.
“I would write to the individual who would seem to be implicated. The name that I can get,” he explained, adding “I think it is making waves in the background”.
In a call to other health professionals who are treating people in similar circumstances, Dr Browne said these
exceptional times called for direct action: “I am there to try to help in whatever way I can, and if there is something or someone that is clearly putting unfair pressure on patients, then I think that you have to address that.”
A move by health professionals who are concerned about the welfare of their patients could lead banks to rethink their debt-collection strategy – for fear of future lawsuits.
The Master of the High Court has previously warned that the banks are driving some
borrowers who can not pay their debts to suicide. Ed Honohan, brother of Central Bank governor Patrick Honohan, said he had dealt with several debt cases where the borrowers had subsequently taken their own
lives. The news comes as suicide campaigners have accused lending institutions of adding to the suicide crisis by harassing people crippled by debt and struggling to cope with the recession.
Paul Kelly, CEO of Console, welcomed the move by Dr Browne and called on other clinicians to take action if they made a “good clinical decision” that a person’s life may be in danger. “If their client is at risk and in great distress, and the clinician or therapist has a fear their patient could take their own life, then banks need to be made fully
aware of this and steps need to be taken to ensure the individual is protected,” he said. He added: “We are dealing with calls every day where people feel suicidal because of the pressure from banks and lending institutions. In one case, we dealt with a man who walked out of the bank after his loans were foreclosed and he took his own life. People are telling us ‘I would be better off dead’ rather than continue with the pressure they are being put under.”
That is indeed the situation in Ireland today and the actions of our politicians and their close cousins, the bankers, have created a situation where people feel helpless and worth nothing.
What if you’ve taken enough and decide to lend your weight to the many street protests taking place around this time? Well, it is an outlet for your frustrations and indeed can make you feel that little bit better. Nothing worse than sitting about all day complaining when you could be out protesting with the many worthwhile campaigns about today. Remember that The State is an Institution which is very protective of itself. Once you march down the street behind a banner, or turn up to join in a protest at Leinster House, are you aware that you are being photographed and investigated by our ‘Sovereign State’ ? Yes indeed you are. A file will be opened which will contain your personal details. Your Facebook and Twitter Account may be examined as well as other social media you may indulge in. Perhaps you’ll get a knock on your door by some middle-aged detectives who just want to see ‘what you’re up to’. These would be the same characters who have overseen Republicans since the creation of the State.You see The State, our State technically, wants to know the ‘trouble makers’. In today’s scenario that is you and me. Of course all this can and will be shared by the Garda Commissioner with ‘Our’ Minister for Justice, currently Mr Alan Shatter. What they decide to do with all this personal information obtained on you is of course a matter for them. Sadly, it appears the more successful your protests, the higher up their List of Troublemakers you’ll be. And it doesn’t stop there. You may appear on Lists. Yes, private listings where you can end up being ‘Black Listed’. That in effect means that your chances of employment in the future will take a turn for the worst. Sure, who would employ a trouble maker?
Living in Ireland today is not easy. Our Politicians and indeed Bankers are pure foot soldiers for an Elite who have taken the world by storm. Our Citizens are suffering terrible hardships from imposed austerity and this will continue until their goal of complete subjugation has been completed. Suicide or protest? Well I do hope that some day soon the Trade Union Movement will awaken and give leadership to their members and not concern themselves as appears to have happened, with maintaining their ‘cosy relationship’ with Government. The ties between the Labour Party and the Trade Union Movement should and must be cut now and true Leadership shown. Nothing short of this will give the much-needed hope that the Irish People deserve. Overthrow the Irish Trade Union Leadership. That seems essential in order that the irish Citizen gets the Leadership they deserve and so urgently need.
LegalEagleStar , Tuesday , 16th. July , 2013.
Tuesday Morning in San Antonio was another beautiful day. Unfortunately myself, my son, my daughter and her son had to make the journey back to Ireland. Never a happy day. That said, we were all content that we’d be back in a couple of months to enjoy our Texas home as that is where we have come to enjoy family get-togethers and meet up with our Texas Family i.e. good friends gained over the years. Texas, to the uninitiated, is very different from any place I’ve discovered over many years of travelling. The people are warm and friendly and the State has a rich history. I don’t know really why but we have come to call Texas ‘Home’. It is like a separate country from the USA. We are drawn there like to no other place. Tejas Rodeo in Bulverde is our destination of choice on Saturday evenings where we meet with good people and where old and young can mingle and enjoy themselves in an atmosphere hard to find, if ever, anywhere in my native Ireland.That’s just Saturday and the rest of the week is as enjoyable.
We were driven to the Airport by Jim, a good friend, and after saying our Good-Byes, headed to the Check-In Desks of United Airways. As usual the Staff were most helpful and after passing through the Security Gates, always a good experience in San Antonio Airport, unlike elsewhere, we proceeded to our Gate to await our departure to Newark Airport, the first stage in our journey. I hadn’t travelled this route for some time as my preferred route takes me via Atlanta on Delta. I had chosen Atlanta over Newark in the past as I have had good experiences, never missing my connecting flight to Dublin and you always get a warm reception in Atlanta, unlike the colder Yankee experience in New York. Maybe it’s the character of the Southern States that I yearn for but today I was on a flight with my children and grandson ‘Toes’ , booked by my son.
On arriving at the Departure Gate, we noticed a delay on the flight. As we had only two hours to make our connection, I had a memory of this flight to Newark being diverted to Baltimore and us missing our connection. But sure that was with Continental years back and I was reassured that times had changed. ‘Relax Dad’, we’ll be fine I was reassured. As it turned out we were delayed less than an hour so we were on track. So, I sat back on Flight UA369, buckled my seat belt and enjoyed my flight to Newark. Well, until we joined the many flights circling over Newark. I felt some downward movement as I thought and said, somewhat relieved, that we seemed to be making our approach. Then the voice of the Captain advised us that as our fuel was running low we would have to divert to Washington Dulles International Airport to refuel. Oh boy, here we go again. We’ll definitely miss our connection to Dublin ! I could feel the tension with my daughter as ‘Toes’ , now three years old, had reassured her that he would sleep on the second flight.
On landing at Washington Dulles International Airport, the Captain advised us that he was told there would be a twenty-minute turnaround. He said that from his experience this seemed somewhat optimistic. He was right. Later he advised us all that we could leave the aircraft if we wished to purchase anything in the shop. As this was a flight where no food was served but the famous ‘RyanAir’ type trolley with food to purchase passed along the aisle, a few people took advantage of the opportunity to stretch their legs. People were now phoning their friends to tell of the delay and as many had connections to make in Newark, phones were the order of the day. My son then informed me that his girlfriend in Dublin had noticed that there was a flight to Dublin leaving from Washington circa 10 p.m. On hearing this, my son and I made our way to the front of the aircraft and spoke to the Steward who thought that a good idea and suggested we head out to the Customer Service Agent who would be able to help us. I must at this stage point out that I was using a walking stick as I have a disability which can restrict my movements.
At the end of the passageway we approached the desk where the Customer Service Agent was located. What looked like a security man, obviously in bad form shouted at me to ‘MOVE’ as I was supposedly blocking the passageway. I couldn’t believe his rudeness but proceeded to the desk. There was a blonde lady busily checking people in and out i.e. the people who had walked out to the shop. Beside her was a rather large gentleman and as we approached him he turned his back on my son. I said ‘Excuse me please, could you help.’ He turned around and said YES. I started to explain that my son’s girlfriend had informed us that there was a direct flight from Washington Dulles International Airport to Dublin circa 10 p.m. and to see if they could accommodate us on that flight. He told me to take it up with the Service Agent in Newark. I replied that it would then be too late as I’d be in Newark, not Washington where the flight was from. I asked him would he contact the Agent in Newark. At this point he turned away and stood with his back to me. I then asked him again if he could help as my daughter was travelling with me and she had her three-year old son with her. No reaction. When he eventually turned around I leaned forward to read his name tag. David B it read. At this point he said to me ‘Why are you looking up my name?’ He went on to say that these things happen all the time in aviation and it was not like the auto industry. Just put up with it he told me. The relevance of his reference to the auto industry is still beyond me. Maybe Michael O’Leary of Ryanair would care to comment on this point. I was annoyed with the way this man treated us and both myself and my son headed back to the plane and relayed what had happened to the Steward who just shook his head. He was clearly embarrassed with the way we had been treated. Some minutes later David B arrived onboard. For a brief moment I thought he might have some news for me but then he just started counting heads. I mentioned to my daughter that this was the gentleman who had been unhelpful to us and then I head a loud voice, ‘Take your seat NOW SIR as otherwise YOU’RE going nowhere.’ Yep, it was David B, a man who clearly was not at all happy with me. Such an attitude is reprehensible. When he left the aircraft some passengers tried to come to our assistance. One lady had looked up the Irish Flight in Newark and said that the new departure time was now 8:30pm. She said we still had a chance to make it. About ten minutes later the Pilot informed us that we were ready to go. Ah, some chance to make my connecting flight. Things were looking up. Then a couple of minutes later again the Pilot, clearly frustrated, told us ‘Bad News’. We would have to wait another fifty minutes. Eventually we took off. At this point I decided to look at United Airlines inflight magazine. Maybe there was a customers complaints section? Didn’t find it but I did read an article entitled ‘If the Name Fits.’ Excellent article about a Denver Customer Service Agent, Rufus Lovett who offers service with a smile ! Now why couldn’t I have met Rufus and not David B ? We landed in Newark circa 9PM at Gate C120 or suchlike.
I told my son to rush to the Board and see if the Irish Flight had departed. He did so, gave the thumbs up and took off at speed in the direction of Gate C81. We had landed at Gate C120?, which is some distance away. My daughter and grandson took off as well leaving me with Toe’s ‘Ride-On Carry-On Bag’. I attempted to follow them as fast as I could. Remember, I’m using a walking stick ! I ran, hobbled would probably describe it better. Pain was immense but I didn’t want to be the cause of them missing the flight. I passed many a Cart going at speed but none offered assistance. I’m sure a perusal of the video tapes in Newark Airport between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. would make interesting viewing. Perhaps they could be used as training tapes as to how not to treat a person with disabilities attempt to make their flights ! Well…I arrived at Gate C81 where a lovely man, a Customer Service Agent, told me to relax as we had made our flight. My daughter had a worried look on her face and was worried I was having a heart-attack but I assured her that I was just in pain and would be fine when I got to my seat. The staff on-board were lovely and we had a most pleasant flight to Dublin.
I was going to write in a complaint to United Airlines but thought it better to write about it here on my Blog. That way I could put balance in the piece and be fair to everyone. I would indeed welcome the Airlines comments regarding my experience as I’m sure with a little tweaking they could rectify matters. I must put on record that I have found over the years that, bar the odd exception, that my experiences while travelling have in the main been pleasant and I’d had the pleasure of being served by many great people in the industry. Unfortunately gone are the days when flying was a pleasurable experience. Today unfortunately, air travel is more like an endurance test. I would also like Newark Airport to examine the tapes of my sprint, with the aid of my walking stick and indeed walking stick under my arm for a short distance. I would also like to hear their comments. Not a great experience. I do not believe that I would not have been assisted in some way if the same happened in Atlanta. Surely someone could have intervened and assisted me get to my Departure Gate? As time was of the essence I did not have the opportunity to ask for assistance. Maybe if David B had taken the time to ring Newark as I had asked him to instead of refusing my request, assistance could have been made available at Newark for me?
As my phone was not on roaming, I did not get the many Updates sent by United Airlines regarding the delayed departure of the flight to Dublin. In fairness to United Airlines, the last email stated..
Confirmation number LS7P9E
As of 9:33 p.m. on June 25, United flight UA23 on June 25 is delayed due to a late-arriving aircraft.
Now departs: 9:35 p.m. on June 25 from gate C81, New York/Newark, NJ (EWR-Liberty) (EWR)
Now arrives: 8:49 A.M. ON June 26 at Dublin, Ireland (DUB) (DUB)
Please be at the gate for boarding prior to original scheduled departure time of 7:10 p.m. ,as the departure time could be revised again.
Information is subject to change. For up-to-the-minute flight status information, go to united.com , use the \United mobile app or check flight information screens at the airport.
Is it possible that David B got them to hold the flight for us? Unlikely. If that was indeed the case I would welcome that news from United Airlines. More likely this information was available to David B who couldn’t have cared less whether we made our flight or not. Maybe if he had taken the time he could have reassured us that they were doing everything they could to help. That would have been nice and reassuring.
I must say, full marks to the Baggage Handling team at Newark. They managed somehow to get our bags onto the Dublin Flight. Well done Guys. I was not expecting to see all four bags appear on the conveyor belt at Dublin Airport.
LegalEagleStar, Thursday, 27th. June, 2013.
I have been asked to comment on the relationship between Customer and Banker. This arose from several conversations on Twitter where I have been criticised for attacking the morality, or lack thereof, of the Banks and their use of customers monies. I have been asked to point out the crimes which the Bankers have committed. I have struggled with this issue. I am not a Criminal Lawyer, my expertise being in Personal Injuries, Divorce and Real Estate Law. I personally believe that our Government, among others have subjugated the rights of the Citizen to those of the wealthy Elites and their Bankers. In paying off Bondholders, believed to be other Bankers and their kin, the Irish Government have decimated our economy resulting is terrible austerity imposed upon our Citizens. There is something wrong here. People are being ripped off, no other way to put it, by Bankers, now referred to as Banksters, because that is what they are, gangsters who have used the money deposited with them in whatever manner they so wish. They gamble with your money. Now, the Citizen is continually bailing out these same Banks. Our Government has chosen to stand firmly on the side of these banksters against the interests of the Citizen.
OK, so what is the legal position in all this. Sure isn’t our own money safe in the Bank ? Well, not really. Because once you hand your hard-earned money across the counter to the Bank, it is their money, not yours. The relationship is best described in a case brought before the English House of Lords (their highest Appeals Court) in the case of Foley v Hill. The Appellant in 1829 opened a bank account with the respondents, who were bankers. Further deposits were added in
1830 and in 1831 interest was still added. In 1838 the Appellant brought proceedings against the Respondent Bankers seeking recovery of both the principle and interest.
In his Judgment the Lord Chancellor Cottenham said…
” Money, when paid into a bank, ceases altogether to be the money of the principal; it is by then the money of the banker, who is bound to return an equivalent by paying a similar sum to that deposited with him when he is asked for it. The money paid into a banker’s is money known by the principal to be placed there for the purpose of being under the control of the banker; it is then the banker’s money; he is known to deal with it as his own; he makes what profit of it he can, which profit he retains to himself, paying back only the principal, according to the custom of bankers in some places, or the principal and a small rate of interest, according to the custom of bankers in other places. The money placed in custody of a banker is, to all intents and purposes, the money of the banker, to do with it as he pleases; he is guilty of no breach of trust in employing it; he is not answerable to the principal if he puts it into jeopardy, if he engages in a hazardous speculation; he is not bound to keep it or deal with it as the property of his principal; but he is, of course, answerable for the amount, because he has contracted, having received that money, to repay to the principal, when demanded, a sum equivalent to that paid into his hands.
That has been the subject of discussion in various cases, and that has been established to be the relative situation of banker and customer. That being established to be the relative situations of banker and customer, the banker is not an agent or factor, but he is a debtor. ”
So legally, when you deposit your money in a Bank, the Bank becomes the legal owner of your money and you become a Creditor of the Bank. In the event of the Bank becoming insolvent you take your place at the end of the queue after Secured Creditors. Should any monies be left after such payments have been made you will most likely receive maybe a cent in the Euro…if you’re lucky.
Surely the Government will secure my money for me? What about the Bank Guarantee? Well, in Ireland the State at present, will guarantee your money up to the tune of Euro 100,000. No doubt they can change this on a whim. As can be seen from the attempted confiscation of money from people’s accounts in Cyprus recently, any funds over 100,000 could be lost. Don’t be fooled by the amount of the guarantee. In many cases Citizens have received compensation for their injuries and have deposited the money in Banks to look after their disability for the many years to come. Some old people have saved up their whole lives so they would not be a burden on their families. People sell their homes and place the funds in a Bank while searching for somewhere else. In business, transactions take place where funds are obtained to secure a deal, purchase items etc. At any time those funds are not regarded as yours by the Bank but are being used by the Bank as they please. As we’ve seen so many times, The Banks are treated as too Big to Fail and as a result our National Sovereignty has been lost and it seems we are eternally indebted to them. Of course when Debt Forgiveness is mentioned for the Citizen this is dismissed out of hand. Divide and Conquer is deployed as a tactic. Sure I paid off my debt so why can’t he? Please, wake up before we’re all securely lodged in a debtors prison with no means of escape.
LegaleagleStar , Tuesday , 4th. June , 2013
Foley v Hill and Others , 1848 , Clerk’s Reports, House of Lords 1847-66 Pages 28 and Pages 36-37.
During the week I Retweeted the following from KSat News in San Antonio, Texas….
I wonder how many of these guys made money from Irish Citizens? Bondholders ? Ask
#Enda World’s richest billionaires http://www.ksat.com/-/478556/9259712/-/wvv8urz/-/index.html#.UTT3ocxeiUo.twitter …
If we go to the List we see Warren Buffett, the 82-year-old CEO of Berkshire Hathaway is worth an estimated $53.5 billion. Bill Gates, chairman and co-founder of Microsoft Corp., is also co-chairman of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. His net worth is more than $67 billion. I ask the hypothetical question whether any of these made money on the back of the Irish Citizen? The answer is that I don’t know and our Government is making sure that I cannot find the answer as they refuse to disclose the identity of the Bondholders of Anglo Irish Bank and other Bank Bondholders who have been handed money by our Tax Payers. Our Government has, and is paying back every cent due to these same anonymous bondholders. The Citizen on the other hand, those that invested their redundancy or inheritances, if they were lucky enough to have the money in the first place, have taken huge loses in whatever Funds they were advised to invest in. No bailout for the Citizen, only those who claim Elite status.
The Citizen in Ireland now faces a life devoid of hope. They face the serious prospect of their homes being repossessed by these same Banks and Financial Institutions who they have in fact bailed out. My point is that Billionaires small change would rescue Ireland. But our Government prefers to be the Good Boy in the Euro Class and instead bleed their citizens dry. I’m sure that Billionaires have reaped the rewards from their Bonds, many of which were purchased, I’m told, at a great markdown. I’m sure they were laughing at the incompetent Irish all the way to their banks.
We’re told we are in a recession. I’m not an economist but have listened carefully to our Economists over the past number of years. Their diverse opinions are at times illuminating but it seems most just base their opinions and comments on what is in the media at any given time. Some, who I believe should know better give us little hope and just side with Government strategy in advising more austerity and pain for Citizens who already have been cut to the bone. It seems they reside in a parallel universe where people count for little or nothing and all that is important is the survival of the multinational conglomerates and their bankers. Tune in to Vincent Browne’s Show Monday to Thursday at 11pm on TV3 and listen to their endless diatribe. To be fair to Vincent he does tend to show them up for what they are and in an entertaining fashion.
Historically, Irish People have trusted their politicians and for that matter, their local friendly bank manager. If advised to purchase a home they will follow the advice, take whatever mortgage is offered and complete the purchase. They are fed media hype concerning what they should buy and most if not all media handed out advise on a weekly basis with glossy inserts in the daily papers. People are trusting and believe what they are told. Naive many would say, but I for one have seen what motivates people. As a solicitor in practise for over thirty years, I see the ‘little guy’ spending his/her hard-earned cash in ways that they are ‘urged’ to do by their ‘leaders’, whether politicians, bank managers, investment brokers, Thursday’s Irish Independent Property Supplement, Friday’s Irish Times Property Supplement or indeed the Sunday Papers with their advice regarding the queues outside housing developments to get a bargain. People cannot be expected to discriminate against such pressure from those they have come to trust. Their Friday Irish Times has in fact become the ‘Bible’ for such people. Can we honestly blame people for being taken in by such propaganda? The media, our politicians etc. were forcing an agenda. Those behind the newspapers, advisers and yes sadly, our politicians were making a fortune for themselves, I believe, on the back of the citizen. The money our people spent ended up in already rich coffers.
Now politicians change their mind and continue our previous Government’s austerity measures. People threw out Fianna Fail as they believed them corrupt and voted for change. Now they feel betrayed by those they trusted, again naively some might say, who now claim their hands are tied by previous the Government. So while politicians change their minds and continue to trade cheap shots with one another, the Citizen is driven to bankruptcy, lose their family homes and family silver and are told its their own fault. ‘We partied during the Celtic Tiger’ we have been told. No we didn’t. Yes, most did their part as they were told and spent money on property, if the funds were handed to them. To say people partied is an insult. The Citizen is now driven to despair and sadly many lives have been lost due primarily to the helpless situation they find themselves in. Families have been broken up, many, too many suicides have occurred and yet the Government ignores their pleas for help.
Yesterday we saw our leaders Enda Kenny, Fine Gael and Eamonn Gilmore, Labour Party ‘glorify’ in the success of the first two years of their Government. They told us that we are doing well. The reality is somewhat different on the streets where the level of poverty has arisen to greater heights than ever before in my lifetime. This without the upcoming property tax, water metering and whatever other schemes they dream up to fleece the citizen. Remember all those that bought their homes paid an enormous amount of Stamp Duty and to ask them to now pay Property Tax is an absolute travesty of justice. Those ‘economists’ who favour this charge citing other countries property taxes, simply ignore this injustice. Shame on them ! There seems a major disconnect from what politicians are saying and what the reality is. While citizens are awakening in a new era of poverty and austerity, corporations, who are not even pursued for the meagre corporation tax, continue to prosper. Who are the Government working for? The citizen or the multinationals who continue to prosper?
Are we in a recession or is it the implementation of all those Euro Treaties that we were told would bring jobs, prosperity etc. The United States of Europe, which no Irish Citizen ever voted openly for, but is the culmination of said Treaties, is now a reality and its imposition is being forced upon us. Be careful for what you wish for as all those Yes to Europe Votes have indeed come back to haunt us. We Irish are now a small poor Statelet within a huge capitalist entity. How did we ever think we’d be a player enjoying equality and fraternity with the likes of Germany? That is what we were sold by our politicians and we believed them. Recently on RTE Pat Rabbitte, a prominent member of the Labour Party said that you say some things before elections. He was justifying a change of mind when parties take power…
Video: Pat Rabbitte admits to breaking election promises http://www.joe.ie/news-politics/current-affairs/video-pat-rabbitte-admits-to-breaking-election-promises-0031538-1 … via
@JOEdotie …And We continue to believe them..
Enda Kenny changed his mind on taxing the family home. I tweeted on this…Tom Baldwin
‘It is morally wrong. unjust+unfair to tax a person’s home.’ EndaKenny 1994.’Don’t ever trust a politician.’ Me, 2013 pic.twitter.com/0P05G6vxY1
When I was in College we were taught about Capitalism, that you were ‘Never too big to fail’ What utter nonsense. Whosoever controls the capital calls the tune. Billionaires who continue to prosper, their bankers and suchlike, many under the guise of Anglo Irish bank Bondholders control this new United States of Europe. I wonder as to where the old Nazis are now because Hitler has indeed realised his ultimate goal of a United States of Europe under German control and with an ‘Elite’ firmly in charge of our destiny. Whatever will the German people think when they discover what is really happening to the Irish Citizen?
LegalEagleStar , Thursday , 7th. March , 2013.
As a teenager, I was an enthusiastic fan of Perry Mason. I was blown away by his expertise. That man could save people accused and looking guilty. Of course they were innocent but it was only his expertise that exposed the truth. What a Guy. It would appear that Perry was an inspiration for a generation of lawyers. Later ‘idols’ included Ally McBeal, the lawyers at LA Law and more recently Denny Crane and Alan Shore, not to mention Shirley Schmidt, all at Boston Legal. What all of these idols represented was a pursuit of justice for their clients both rich and poor.
During my College years in the mid to late 1970′s, I encountered a very diverse set of fellow students. There was the middle-aged teacher who felt that ‘it was time for a change’. He was a very genuine guy and told all that would listen to him, that his days teaching had come to an end and that he needed a new challenge. There was the Canadian businessman who wanted to come back to Ireland and felt that he wanted to pursue a career in law. My friend Anna was about my age, late teens, and had always wanted to be a solicitor. She came from a wealthy background but was a good person who wanted to do some good. Phyllis was a law clerk and had developed an interest in law and felt it was the natural progression, career-wise, to go to College in order to step up the ladder so to speak. Ann, who had numerous degrees already felt it was time, yet again, to go back and this time get a law degree to add to the numerous degrees she already possessed. She took us all under her belt and gave us the guidance we really needed. There was another Anne who was the daughter of a wealthy banker. She was really mature compared to me. She had her career planned out. Daddy had arranged this. She had brains to burn unlike me who felt somewhat overawed in such company. I must say they were a great support and source of encouragement to be during those years. While I was wildly idealistic, I was getting a real education in life itself. We were a diverse group but the one thing that we all had in common was our enthusiasm for the law. Many a debate, some heated, we engaged in and it was where I encountered politics or should I say Political Parties and the hold and influence they had on people. I saw that it was not only what you know but who you knew that seemed to determine your future.
It was during my second year that I got involved with FLAC (Free Legal Advice Centres). I didn’t apply to join them but was so fascinated with a young enthusiastic female barrister,now a Senior Counsel, who literally threw me into the deep end, that I encountered a vast number of people who The System had ignored and needed our help. It was no time before I was in charge of FLAC in Ballymun and had to deal with numerous social based problems and in particular Family Law. What a fantastic group of people I was privileged to meet. They gave of their time and energy to give advice and indeed appear in Court representing people who could not afford to go into a Solicitor for advice. I must mention here that some firms gave of their time and expertise to help us and for that we were so very grateful. Without their help and letting us use their names to front our Court appearances, we would not have had access to the Court system to protect the rights of the most vulnerable and dismissed in our society.
Well, the results were out. We all passed our exams, Thank God. I think my late father’s prayers had more to do with my success than the many hours spent trying to come to grips with the niceties of the law. We all headed our separate ways and ended up in one job or another. Personally I had a workload what with my involvement in FLAC. This followed me into practice as you just couldn’t hand it over to someone in the hope that they would look after the client. These many clients had become personal to me. I set up practice from my father’s house and with the support of my family I commenced to practice. The rest is history. I was lucky in that I was busy from the start. Apart from the numerous Free cases I did, I got work locally and over the first few years I was able to make a living. Most of my Classmates joined established firms and most stayed the course and are still practicing today.
Was making money a motivation? It certainly was for some but I must say the interest in law was the major factor. For most of us making a living was the important factor as this gave us the energy and enthusiasm to pursue issues through the Courts that would make a difference to people’s lives. It was not glamorous standing outside the Family Law Courts attempting to settle cases. The deserted wife with four children attempting to live on £25 a week was not uncommon. The husband who deserted them claiming he wasn’t working, had no money, when the opposite was the case. Those were hard and tough times for these women and they relied on us to give them the chance to survive. While Ann and one or two others may have gone into banking, most of the rest of us dealt with the ordinary citizen and to be honest, I wouldn’t have it any other way.
LegalEagleStar , Wednesday , 23rd. January , 2013 .
According to the Mayan Calendar, tomorrow marks the end of the world. Living in Ireland today we might think that the end of the world, as we know it, is indeed nigh. So, if you are reading this next Saturday, the prophesy is obviously wrong but you never know. Stranger things have happened as my Uncle Bernie used to say.
For many years now I have had the privilege, as a solicitor, to act for some of those we refer to as the poor. I do not make such a reference in any disparaging way but mention it now as it appears to be more meaningful at this time of year and in the Ireland of Christmas 2012. Scripture mentions that the poor will always be with us, but today, more than anytime I can remember, the poor are very close to us. Yes, those living in this depressing country called Ireland. It was not always so. I love my country and condemn those that have abused it for their own selfish needs.
Poverty can be of many varieties. The obvious being those on low and middle incomes who have found it desperately hard to pay their household bills; to feed their children and indeed put clothes on their backs. If it wasn’t for the St. Vincent de Paul Society, The Simon Community and other such charities, many would have lost their homes and literally be on the side of the road. Those that have, will and should dig deep into their pockets in order to help their fellow-man survive this tough winter. We live in unprecedented times when our Government has literally turned their backs on the Irish Citizens in pursuit of a greater European vision of a New Beginning. Unfortunately that vision does not cater for, nor improve the lot of the working man. It is a Europe where Big Business will thrive at the expense of the ordinary citizen.
There is another type of poverty rampant in Ireland today that crosses all class barriers, if indeed you do believe in the class system, which I do not. This is the issue of the mental health of the nation. While you may be lucky enough to be able to pay your bills this winter, you may well be suffering mental illness brought on, in many cases by the disastrous state of the country. Those that brought about this economic decline and indeed those that continue the austerity policies which are drowning the citizens in debt, have a lot to answer for. The number of suicides is unacceptable but seem to be the inevitable consequences of austerity and the policies being imposed by those Elites who continue to pursue their own selfish agenda to the detriment of the citizen. Shame on them and their fellow travellers.
May I wish everyone a Happy and Holy Christmas but ask that you remember those less well off than yourself especially at this time of year. Be as generous as you can and remember to spend time with people. Many times it is the time spent with our fellow-man that brings about the most benefits. If the Mayans have got it right, then maybe our suffering poor can be spared the indignity of yet another harsh winter of discontent.
LegalEagleStar , Thursday 20th. December , 2012.
I’ve just had the opportunity to glance through the ‘Survey of Irish law firms 2012/13 which landed on my desk today. The authors of the Survey, Smith & Williamson claim that 93 law firms took part in the Survey: 5 of the top 10; 14 mid-tier and 74 small firms. I must be included in the latter category having completed the Survey. I actually had a few minutes one day and decided to do my duty. That said, sadly none of my illuminating comments were reported although they claim that ‘a sample of participants’ comments have been included…’
By and large, in my opinion, the Survey is completely unrepresentative of the views of the majority of the profession. The views expressed are clearly of the Elites in the profession who have absolutely nothing in common with the High Street solicitor who the working man/woman has contact with. It’s interesting to read under the heading Impact of the Legal Services Regulation Bill ‘The Bill proposes the establishment of the Legal Services Regulatory Authority thereby removing the existing self-regulation system by the Law Society and Bar Council…..In spite of concerns regarding Government influence, the Law Society fundamentally altered its stance in April 2012 when it informed members of its formal support for the Authority proposal and stated it would be in the best interest of the public and the profession.’ This is yet another case where the interests of the Elites are indeed served while the independence offered by the High Street Solicitor representing an independent Legal Profession have been dismissed. In future then, the State will control the legal profession with the full support of the Law Society. It’s at times like this that I wonder what my membership of the Law Society is all about. They hold themselves out as representing the interests of the profession. They do not. It is a long time since they have represented my interests or the interests of my colleagues, bar those that serve Government and Multinational Enterprises including the Banks and Insurance Companies. To be fair to the authors of the Survey they do state ‘However, this stance does not appear to currently have the full support of the profession…’
I won’t bore you with further references to the Survey except to say that it is of little or no assistance to the average solicitor who must continue to work hard to etch out a living. Gone are the days of some 50 years ago when the fact of qualifying was enough to guarantee you a certain standard of living. Today the legal professions are not restricted to the sons and daughters of solicitors and those preferred members of society. They are made up of the sons and daughters of the working man who worked hard, night and day, to give their children a chance to pursue a career. The ability to study law was once the preserve of the chosen few. Today lawyers work hard to pursue the rights of their clients regardless of ability to pay and suchlike. That was not always the case. I should, in balance, say that there was always some good people in the profession who acted in such a manner but I believe that they were few and far between.
Over the past couple of years I’d had many a chat with fellow lawyers concerning the future of our profession. Many are close to closing shop. Some time ago, many said, they had purchased the building they worked from with hefty mortgages and now find the cost of repayments are putting an undue strain on their practices. The thought behind this action was to reduce the ever-increasing cost of renting rooms and also to provide for a pension for themselves when they retired. This scenario is not uncommon. It would appear that it is only time for many, before they must cease to practice. The inability to access funds from the Banks among other things has had catastrophic results for them. At a time when they need guidance and assistance from their professional body, they feel ostracised and alone in their fight for survival. Even the need to attend seminars to gain CPD points, while not cheap in itself, has them away from their practices when there are few enough hours in the working week as it is, to complete their legal work for their clients. It is sad the number of good lawyers, both solicitors and barristers who have had to cease practice over the last few years. Not only is it sad, it’s an absolute disgrace. The loss of these good people is being felt by those of us left to continue in practice. Little or no concern has been expressed by the Professional Bodies and one must wonder whether a return to the elitist ‘closed door’ profession of the past, is the prefered way forward for them.
LegalEagleStar , Monday , 10th December , 2012 .
Note: The No Solicitors Graphic used above is done so with a sense of humour as it is American and has a non-lawyer meaning.