Criminal Legal Aid Transfer Delayed

The transfer of responsibility for the administration of criminal legal aid to the Legal Aid Board has been delayed. The transfer of criminal legal aid from the courts service to the legal aid board is unlikely to affect access to criminal legal aid solicitors and criminal legal aid barristers. It is likely that oversight of income declarations may be strengthened. The transfer was due to take place this year but it is now thought that it will not happen until next year. Criminal legal aid is available to those on a low income and facing sufficiently serious charges in a criminal trial.

Woman awarded €40,000 for Unfair Dismissal

A woman who was unfairly dismissed by POD Entertainment Ltd had been awarded €40,000 in the Circuit Court. The woman had been awarded €8,000 in the Employment Appeals Tribunal but was appealing the amount of the award. The woman had worked as a bar person but when she became pregnant she was initially told that she would not likely be able to work as a bar person while pregnant. She was later dismissed for gross misconduct including stealing money from the till. Following her dismissal she engaged an employment law solicitor in Dublin. The Court agreed with her that she had been unfairly dismissed and that the alleged acts of misconduct had not been properly or fairly investigated. It awarded the woman €40,000 in damages.

Supreme Court Rules in ‘Right to Die’ Case

The Supreme Court has recently ruled in a high profile 'Right to Die' case. The case involved a retired lecturer, Marie Fleming, who is terminally ill due to multiple sclerosis. The Court ruled that while suicide is no longer a criminal offence in Ireland, that did not mean that a Constitutional right to take one's own life existed. It further stated thet Ms Fleming did not have the right to assisted sucide under the pricnipal of equal treatment. Ms Fleming was appealing a High Court decision which refused to grant orders which would alow somone to lawfully help her die at a time of her choosing.

Registered Employment Agreements Unconstitutional

The Supreme Court has ruled that a law which allowed for registered employment agreements which sets rates of pay in certain sectors is unconstitutional. The court found that Part II of the Industrial Relations Act of 1946 unconstitutional because it delegated the power of legislators to the Labour Court. The office of the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in a statement said that it would be seeking legal advice. The statement added: “The judgment has the effect of striking down Registered Employment Agreements put in place under the 1946 Industrial Relations Act. Agreements which set pay and conditions for workers in five sectors including electrical contracting and construction are affected by today’s judgment.

Change in procedure regarding return first country of entry

In a recent judgement of the ECJ it was decided that an asylum seeker may not be sent back to the first EU member state he landed in from outside the EU if he risks being subjected to inhuman treatment there.

This means asylum seekers in Ireland who landed in another country first may not be sent back to the first country if they risk suffering inhumane treatment there.

Under the current regime the state in which the asylum seeker first arrived was considered responsible for dealing with their asylum application. This was known as the "Dublin II" regulation.

The ECJ ruled that Belgium should not have sent an person back to Greece where he had already been mistreated during the asylum process, as Greece was unable to guarantee that his human rights would not be infringed.

In a subsequent hearing, the court was asked by the UK and Ireland to rule on two cases where asylum seekers had arrived from Greece and had objected to being sent back to Greece on the basis that the asylum regime in Greece was inadequate with regards to its human rights protections.

In the Irish case a number of applicants, each of which originated fro different countries. They all initially arrived in Greece where they travelled on to Ireland where they claimed asylum. They resisted their return to Greece and claimed the procedures for asylum seekers there were inadequate.

In the UK case, an asylum seeker had been arrested in Greece before making an asylum application and removed to Turkey, where he was held in in conditions which were such that his human rights were breached. He escaped from detention in Turkey and travelled to the United Kingdom where he claimed asylum.

The Irish and English Courts asked the ECJ whether the State should verify that the receiving State (in this case Greece) will uphold the applicant's fundamental human rights. If the State finds that these rights will not be protected, the Courts asked should the State then assume responsibility of the asylum seeker's application?

The judgement stated that States may no longer assume that fundamental rights will be upheld by the State of first entry.

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