Indymedia Ireland

Appeal To Stop Disbarment Of Rights Solicitor

by Shane OCurry - Pat Finucane Centre Thursday, Jan 20 2005, 3:43pm

Northern Irish Law Society Accused Of Political Bias In Move To Strike Padraigin Drinan From Books

Photo by Melissa Thompson - appearing on Indymedia.ie

**Please see also Ms Thompson's interview with Pádraigín Drinan on www.tallgirlshorts.net/thewayofwomen

The Law Society of Northern Ireland are in the process of closing down the law practice of Padraigin Drinan. She can no longer represent her clients and they are asking the High Court in Belfast to freeze her assets immediately.

The reasons given by Ms Bryson of the Law Society of Northern Ireland for these actions depends on who is asking. She has told Padraigin that it is because she failed to respond to letters from the society (Padraigin maintains that she answered the questions fully in other correspondence). She has told others it is because Padragin had not amalgamated her practice with that of another solicitor. One person even got a call today saying, 'Watch what you're getting into, this is about financial irregularities". This is nonsense, as you need to be making money to be irregular with it, and a huge portion of Padraigin's work is done 'pro bono' (for free).

Spearheading the appeal to defend Ms Drinan, one friend and colleague told this Indymedia reporter "Padraigin has a long history of defending the dispossessed. She's a champion of the poor. She fights for those in society who have no voice. Immigrants, the residents groups, Dominic McGlinchey (raising his sons after their father's death), and above all she does what's right and speaks out against injustice no matter who is perpetrating that injustice".

She went on "What is needed at this moment is to get the word out to as many people as possible, unions, politicians and activist groups, and to ask them to contact Ms. Bryson of the Law Society of Northern Ireland and ask her why Padraigin is being persecuted. To ask her which of the three reasons given is the real reason Padraigin's ability to practice has been taken away. Indeed what people should be asking is "is this not in fact punishment for the political orientation of her clientele? Is it not about the fact that she is trying to keep loyalists from again invading nationalist communities in the coming marching season?"

The spokeswoman promised that additional information would be forthcoming, but, until then, asked that concerned individuals and groups write to the address and email below and put the questions outlined above to Ms Bryson.

Padraigin has taken cases that have made her enemies. The British and Irish Governments don't like her, not least because because of her stance against institutionalised sectarianism within the RUC/PSNI and the judicial system, and her challenge to the legality of the the 26 county racist citizenship referendum, by demonstrating that it disenfranchised the six counties and exposed the fact that people from the six counties who put themselves down as Irish could not get jobs in the civil service there. Anti-War activists will remember her as a legal observer on many a demonstration, including the march against Blair and Bush at Hillsborough and the various actions at Shannon.

In the North, she has also fallen out of favour with the GFA-supporting parties of every hue because her challenge to Orange marches in the nationalist community is seen as undermining deals to resurrect Stormont.

Unionist/loyalist political forces are naturally pissed off with her because of her association with issues impacting on the nationalist community, such as loyalist parades and sectarian attacks.

Readers are urged to contact Suzanne Bryson and tell her that they are aware of the witch-hunt against Padraigin and want it to end.

Whether you agree with the politics of her clients or the orientation she appears to align herself with is of no consequence. It is a cornerstone of basic human rights to defend and enable lawyers to provide all citizens with legal defence.

Padraigin Drinan has, in the past, been subjected to numerous death threats and even attempts on her life. It is not inconceivable that the State, having decided that the tactic of rubbing out solicitors that they don't like - as they did in the still unresolved cases of Rosemary Nelson and Pat Finucane - is too messy, and has therefore moved on to taking subtler and less politically costly measures, such as trying to discredit solicitors they consider too uppity and attempting to destroy their careers.

The spokeswoman said "Padraigin Drinan may be the most important civil rights attorney practicing in the six counties today, please join in defending her and don't delay."

SUZANNE BRYSON - Deputy Secretary
Email: info@lawsoc-ni.org
Law Society of Northern Ireland
98 Victoria St
Belfast, Ireland BT1 3JZ

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