There has recently been a significant change in criminal law in Ireland that affects us all. Even if you are not a “criminal” it is an important change for anyone who is questioned by the Gardai.
The DPP directed all Gardai (on 7 May 2014) that Solicitors are now entitled to attend where a person if being interviewed by the Gardai. This is a big change in Irish criminal law as it was one of the few jurisdictions left where a Solicitor was not entitled to be present during a Garda interview.
In the past the person could talk to a Solicitor before they were interviewed – and at “reasonable” intervals where the interview has been stopped to receive advice – but not actually have the Solicitor present in the room. It is still to be seen how this will operate in practice in Ireland but it is likely to be similar to the experience in the UK(probably not so much like the practice in the US – despite all the TV shows!).
The benefit for any person involved with the Gardai is that the Solicitor will be aware of your obligations to answer questions, and when you can decline to do so. There is also the physical support of having someone in the room that is on your side as opposed to facing the Gardai on your own.
Kilkenny and Thomastown have been some of the first Garda stations to see this change with Solicitors already being allowed in to the interview rooms during the questioning in the last two weeks. It really is a case of watch this space to see how this development continues. The important thing is to know your rights – get the advice of a Solicitor. The good news is that it is a real protection for anyone who deals with the Gardai and a genuine attempt to balance an individual’s right and protects your interest.