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Posts Tagged ‘RTE

You Need Your Solicitor

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At Early & Baldwin we divide our work into three separate Departments. Personal Injuries, Family Law and Probate & Conveyancing. Over the years it has actually evolved that way due to our involvement with our clients and their needs. When I qualified in 1980 there was in general, the local solicitor who undertook all types of work. I had been a Director of The Free Legal Advice Centres (FLAC) so had been heavily involved in Family Law. I was in charge of the Ballymun Centre located in the basement of Padraic Pearse Tower, since demolished as part of the Ballymun Regeneration Scheme. Our clients, primarily the women of Ballymun with children, needed us when their husbands abandoned them. There was no civil legal aid available to people and FLAC stood in to help. Disgraceful situation people were in but sure this is Ireland, and it seems we’re used to it ! While they were tough times, it really was the first time in my life that I came face to face with such abject poverty and deprivation. A learning curve I would never forget. After qualifying, I did a lot of Family Law Cases and indeed, continue to do so today. I’ve recently engaged the services of Carol McGuinness, one of the best family lawyers around, to head up our Department.


Well then… Why did we open a Department dealing with Personal Injury Law?                In 1987 my law firm partner Kevin Early died. He was primarily involved in the Conveyancing and Probate work, while I looked after Litigation and indeed Family Law. With the introduction of lawyer advertising, which was not previously available, I saw an opportunity to change the direction of the firm from where we were, a general practice, to a more progressive model which could be developed to better meet the needs of our clients. I made it policy that we would not act for Banks, Insurance Companies or indeed large Corporations. I felt that as our clients were ordinary decent people that we owed it to them to act solely for them and not have any conflict of interest. Unlike some of Ireland’s ‘leading’ law firms which it appears, employ ‘Chinese Walls’ to enable them act for all sides !  But I digress.


We made some radio ads, employing Emmet Bergin to do the voice overs. He was the sexy Auctioneer in the RTE Sunday night soap Glenroe. The ads worked well and we established a Personal Injury Law Firm. This Firm took on the cases of the ‘little guy’. There was a great buzz in the Office. We all pulled together and engaged with our clients. We saw people at the lowest point in their lives having suffered in an accident. Many lost limbs or had disfiguring injuries.  We came into contact with mental health issues and depression. All of life flashed before us and we felt job satisfaction like never before.


All this continued for a number of years until our Government, after lobbying from the Insurance Industry, brought in PIAB, the Injuries Board to take our work away and take it out of the hands of lawyers. It seems they only felt that Big Corporates should avail of lawyers, not the man/woman in the street. Even the Law Society were not happy with our Firm. Their Director General personally told me that they ‘didn’t act for me’. Tough times followed but eventually the Courts pointed out the error of their ways to the Government who couldn’t Ban Lawyers from Personal Injury Cases. The injuries Board continues but we can take our cases to the Courts once we deal with the formalities, should it be appropriate.

Well, as a result, we now have a Personal Injury Department. Excellent people I work with and great clients as before.


LegalEagleStar , Wednesday 26th. July 2017.



Written by LegalEagleStar

July 26, 2017 at 4:22 pm

Childrens Referendum. A Sinister Constitutional Amendment or just another botched job ?

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Mother holds Child

Mother holds Child (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are several issues or questions which arise when looking to the proposed Referendum on November 10th. Your legal right under Article 42.5 of the Constitution deciding on what is in the “best interest” of the child could now ultimately be decided by the State. The Courts already use this “best interest” test when deciding issues of custody, guardianship and access on a daily basis when parties cannot agree in Family Law proceedings.

 Personally, I think that adoption is the biggest issue in the yes/no vote debate. Your child could be placed for adoption against your will. While I do not think this decision would be taken lightly and several steps have to be taken in this regard, it is a scary thought. This can happen in the context of what is the current child care procedure in which a child can be taken off its parents / parent / guardians and into the care of the State. An Interim Care Order is sought firstly and must be renewed every 28 days until the full hearing where it is decided whether a full Care Order is made or not. If a Care Order is made, it is put in place until the child attains 18 years of age. There are times however when parents etc. do apply before that time and a new Hearing occurs. Access can still take place between the parents and the child while the child is under the care of the State. The care system is in dire need of reform with the scary statistics showing the number of children who either die (260), go missing (500) or are ultimately abandoned by the State at the age of 18 years. This gives the State the power to make the child available for adoption once in their care. The Child Care Courts come under the remit of family law and therefore these proceedings are held “in camera” or in private and therefore the parties concerned are not permitted to discuss the matter in public.

There are flaws in the system and reform is needed in that, for example, while unmarried parents can voluntarily place their child up for adoption, there is no provision for a married couple to do so. There are children in long-term State care in which adoption would be appropriate in these cases. However, an argument for the yes vote says that in the past Judges hands were tied, in that they had to be satisfied that there was a high level of failure on the part of the parents and reform would mean a shift to a question of the child’s safety and welfare. I think in lowering any burden or moving the focus to the child is not necessarily the way forward. Independent Cllr Pat Kavanagh said recently to RTE that she is concerned that if the referendum is passed the State might move too early to forcibly remove children from families for adoption. The Wicklow town councillor, who has fostered children and who was a Social Care Worker for 16 years, said fostering costs the State a lot of money and is concerned there is an element of cost-cutting about the proposal. She also went on to state that adoption has ongoing consequences in that children will lose contact, not only with their parents but also with siblings and grandparents, as extended family will have no right of access to an adopted child in the long-term.

In England, in the Baby P case, 2 Doctors were struck off and 4 Social Workers were fired. In Ireland, 260 dead and 500 missing in a decade and nobody has been punished. Baby P, or baby Peter as it was later revealed, was a 17 month old boy who died in London after suffering more than 50 injuries over an eight month period. During this time he was seen several times by Haringey Children’s Services and NHS health professionals. The baby’s name was released on the conclusion of a subsequent trial of Peter’s mother’s boyfriend on a charge of raping a two-year-old. The child’s full identity was revealed when his killers were named after the expiry of a Court Anonymity Order on 10 August 2009.

Another issue that could possibly arise, for example, is that the State could decide that every child should and would be vaccinated and take away the power given to the parent to refuse. That’s not to say this would definitely happen or that these are the intentions of the Government, however, this is an example of the powers the Government could have if such Referendum is passed. Plus what little sovereignty, if any, Ireland still has, could be lost as the UN and EU could make new laws concerning children without the consent of the Irish Government. The United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child is a legally binding Human Rights Treaty which, if article 42 is changed, will allow unelected people in the EU and UN re-write Irish Law. Like everything else in this country of recent years, it is the loss of the power of the people which is my main concern.

It’s definitely arguable that the UNCRC does not give Irish Children any real new rights which they did not possess before and by giving powers to the State, in fact, removes or takes away children’s rights. While the UNCRC gives rights to children there is no guarantee of these rights. There are developing countries which have ratified the UNCRC and therefore the children have rights to food and water and yet these children are still dying. Some countries also allow for child soldiers, forced marriages to name but a few. At the end of the day the UNCRC does not protect children, their parents, families etc. do.

I believe there should not be a simple Yes or No Vote in the upcoming Referendum but several sections broken down in which you could Vote Yes or No for each. There are flaws and there needs to be change and reform, but bundling it all together in the way it has been proposed, I personally believe is wrong.

LegalEagleStar , 1st. November , 2012 .

The End of The World is Nigh, or so it seemed yesterday !

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The studio set-up for The Frontline (Irish TV ...

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I spent the early part of the day with my Accountants. That time of the year again when we sign off on the Accounts. Kate told me that the Bank will be happy. I replied that I was not in business to make the Bank happy. It seems our politicians sole concern of late would appear to be to ensure we have Healthy Banks with little or no regard to the health or otherwise of the Citizen. Austerity rules while our Banks are designated as our sole concern. So, leaving Ballsbridge with Kate’s words ringing in my head, didn’t exactly put me in the best of form for the rest of the day. Bloody Banks ! And I’m making them Happy ?

I decided I’d use the Toll Bridge to get back to the north side of Dublin but as I approached the Toll Booth, I was faced with a terrible vision. No, not an accident but a sky which reminded me of a scene from a disaster movie. The clouds were black and swooping down over Dublin. It was a vision which I’d imaged would be what we would see at the final chapter when our little world was coming to an abrupt end. Then on approaching the Toll Booth itself, a lovely girl was huddled behind the window which she opened a matter of inches to take my money. She looked terrified. I said something like, ‘what terrible weather’ and she replied something in return before quickly closing her window again in order to survive for a few minutes longer before the inevitable disaster would strike. If I was in Texas now, I’d be running for shelter as no doubt I was heading directly into the path of an oncoming tornado.

My drive across the bridge was no better and I felt my heavy 4×4 practically take off. Frightening, although I was lucky to be viewing this horror from inside a vehicle, not having to be actually out in it and being blown from Billy to Jack and being drenched in the process. Then it struck me. It was obviously Kate’s words about the Banks being Happy. This weather was, I felt, a reflection of the mood of the people. Well, maybe it was just my mood?

Back home, safe and sound, I caught up on some work. Later, my daughter reminded me that Alan Shatter, our esteemed Fine Gael Minister for Justice, would be on The FrontLine with Pat Kenny on RTE. After a few minutes watching, I felt it was very anti-Solicitor, populist and really not getting to grips with the real issues. Minister Shatter is an arrogant individual who is using the IMF imposed changes to suit himself. He is out to humble The Bar and is taking pleasure in so doing. He doesn’t represent solicitors, although one himself, nor indeed the Citizen as he lorded over the rest of the legal profession as a self-proclaimed Mr Family Law for years. Not someone who would be known for a cheapie divorce, mind you !  I was delighted when Dearbhal McDonald – legal affairs correspondent for The Irish Independent called him out for responding to Paul O’Higgins of the Bar Council comments as ‘bullshit’.  Minister Shatter has only his own interests to the fore in his ‘interpretation’ of IMF demands. There we go again IMF, the Bankers demands! Maybe us lawyers should follow Mr Shatter in his visions for us and listen to his views and presumably those of his Law Firm in how we should charge the Citizen for the work we do. It would certainly be enlightening, but I for one am not sure I could follow suite.

Later I decided to watch Vincent Browne’s  Show to wrap up my evening. Maybe this would not be a good idea as at times, Vincent can be very argumentative and not the best viewing if one anticipates a good nights sleep. As it turned out, Vincent was in a very placid mood and the debate on our Economy was indeed enlightening. In particular the contributions by Stephen Donnelly and ‘Banker’ Matthews were excellent. I wonder how Matthews reconciles himself with Fine Gael or is it just a vehicle of convenience for him ?  Then, when Stephen Donnelly was of opinion that all the austerity we were suffering was in vain because it was a policy leading us nowhere, I again cursed the Banks, the parasites living on the backs of us all.

So, to bed. Was it Kate’s words to me; the Weather; Alan Shatter or Tonight with Vincent Browne that had me in Foul Humour? I decided to turn over and say a Prayer… then Cursed the Bankers!

LegalEagleStar,  Tuesday , 18th. October , 2011.

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