In May of this year, the Director of Public Prosecutions issued a direction to the Gardaí that if a suspect in Garda custody requests their solicitor to be present, then this request should be granted. The Department of Justice and Equality informed the Law Society, the ruling body for solicitors, that solicitors may now advise clients in person during Garda interviews.
Whilst this has long been the norm in other jurisdictions, a person detained in Ireland was entitled to legal advice at any time during their detention period but the solicitor was not permitted to remain during the questioning.
This change was quietly introduced with little media coverage and no Dail debates and is considered to be in line with international best practice. Its aim is to ensure that all Garda questioning is fair, appropriate and lawful.
In fact, it is an EU requirement that Ireland legislates for the presence of solicitors during Garda questioning by November 27th, 2016. It is considered to provide vital protection to citizens at a crucial stage of the investigation. The European Court of Human Rights held in 2008 “that it is too late to seek to vindicate the rights of an accused at trial when an incriminating statement has been made during interrogation without access to a lawyer.”