January 24, 2018
Attacks on Northern Ireland solicitors and law officers in press and parliament have led to harassment and credible death threats against lawyers, the Gazette has been told. As the legal profession worldwide marks the ‘Day of the Endangered Lawyer’, alleged UK government indifference has attracted international criticism.
Highly personalised attacks on lawyers involved in ‘legacy’ cases from the Troubles, through inquests, civil actions or prosecutions, have been made in the Daily Mail and the Sun. The Sun has named and photographed a number of solicitors and their offices and published details of the value and rough location of family homes. A piece in the The Sunday Times’ Dublin edition labelled lawyers the ‘legal auxiliaries’ of the Sinn Fein-IRA ‘family’.
Criticism in parliament has included a reference to ‘extreme nationalist-leaning individuals in the Northern Ireland justice system’, taken to be a reference to Northern Ireland’s first Catholic DPP Barra McGrory.
Pádraig Ó Muirigh, director of Belfast human rights firm O’Muirigh Solicitors, was told by police to review his personal security three years ago, as his movements were being monitored. Others, including solicitors from Belfast firm KRW, report death threats and abuse on the streets and online following press coverage. ‘It’s become more difficult in recent times,’ he added.
A strongly-worded letter on the subject sent last summer to the Prime Minister and to then-Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire by the president of the 24,000-member New York City Bar, John Kiernan, has been seen by the Gazette. Kiernan expressed ‘a series of concerns surrounding the recent climate of intimidation that has been re-emerging for lawyers in Northern Ireland’.
On the #DayOfTheEndangeredLawyer, we stand in solidarity with all lawyers across the globe who are being subject to threats and harassment for simply exercising their profession.
In 2018 the focus is on lawyers in #Egypt, who have to live with constant surveillance, smear campaigns and intimidation from state-affiliated media and authorities.
We encourage everyone today to show your support and join the demonstrations outside of your local Egyptian embassies, or attend one of the many interesting events!
#WeAreAllHumanRightsDefenders — Standing up for lawyers!
(Justice and Peace Netherlands Facebook)