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1 October 1998 Edition

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Back issue: Attorney General penalises Clarke

The Fianna Fail Attorney General has refused to provide adequate legal aid for Jim Clarke to contest the British request for his extradition. The Portlaoise District Court hearing on the warrants for the Donegal man ended abruptly when his legal team announced that the necessary legal fees were not being paid by the state. Clarke's solicitor and barrister withdrew and the case had to be adjourned.

This unexpected twist in the case came on Monday last when it was expected that there would be a full hearing on the RUC extradition warrants in Portlaoise District Court. Before it began, Patrick Gageby, counsel for Clarke, applied to the judge for an order to strike out the extradition warrants or to stay their operation on the grounds that the Attorney General had refused to provide a proper professional fee for his client. He explained that Clarke had already been in custody for a week solely on extradition warrants which the state, through the Assistant Garda Commissioner, had brought into being.

Gageby said that the refusal to pay proper fees amounted to an attack on the constitutional rights of those who do not have sufficient resources while the state is well provided for. ``Where such imbalance exists it is inequitable that these proceedings go ahead,'' he concluded.

Just ten minutes before the hearing, Clarke's solicitor Ann Rowland had recieved a letter from the Attorney General, John Murray, turning down her request for adequate fees. Defendants in extradition cases are not covered by the ordinary free legal aid scheme. They must apply to the Attorney General - the highest legal office in the 26 county state and a member of the Cabinet - for costs from a special fund. Solicitors' fees and expenses in extradition cases can be up to £1,000 per day but the Attorney General would only provide £75.

An Phoblacht 29 September 1988


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