and friends of Padraigin Drinan are saying the official
reasons behind an enforced closure by the Northern
Ireland Law Society of the offices of Ireland's
foremost human rights defender and solicitor remain
wide open for damaging speculation.
clients who contacted the Law Society say they were
immediately re-directed to a voice mail inbox belonging
to the Deputy Secretary, Suzanne Bryson, who was
yesterday (Wednesday) a Law Society spokesman was
asked has Ms Drinan's certificate to practice been
fully revoked. The spokesman described the measures
against Ms Drinan as a "removal of her provision
to practice". But he added a "full"
Law Society "press statement on the matter
is available by e-mail".
the time of writing this article, The Blanket
was still not in receipt of the Law Society press
statement concerning Ms Drinan. The Blanket
Editor decided to hold publication to afford the
Society time to respond. [A statement was forwarded
today, Friday 14th January. This statement is printed
in full below.]
Irish Republican Socialist Party spokesperson Terry
Harkin described Ms Drinan as "someone who
was on par with James Connolly especially in terms
of helping the poor and the voiceless all over Ireland,"
and he asked, "where will the most vulnerable
in our society get legal help now?"
Drinan," he continued, "is a once in a
lifetime heroine who ought to be recognized and
elevated for her tireless work and not punished,
bullied and intimidated by some of her colleagues,
who have left her open to a humiliating whisper
Spokesperson for the Anti Racism Network described
The Law Society's actions as "questionable"
and she asked where was the Law Society's energy
when legal immigrants were imprisoned with their
children, being bombed from their home or loosing
their legs due to frostbite. The immigrants, she
said, "are only a small example of the many
communities throughout Ireland who are indebted
to Padraigin Drinan."
Drinan speaking from her Belfast office today (Thursday)
said, "At this stage it appears that I am accused
of being a poor business manager who is not guilty
of any financial impropriety and I must now, after
more than 30 years practicing law, amalgamate with
Drinan said, "I am grateful and highly encouraged
by the hundreds of calls from well wishers and supporters
from all over the world including a call from among
others, Gareth Pierce."
1. Law Society Statement in full (See Below)
2. None of those interviewed above have read the
Law Society Statement.
3. Law Society Statement arrived 2 days after it
was first requested.
by the Law Society: Received - 14 January
Drinan has a substantial history of complaints
going back a number of years. These have led to
a series of decisions by the Law Society to bring
proceedings against Ms Drinan before the Disciplinary
Tribunal, established for this purpose by the
Solicitors (NI) Order 1976, as amended. The Disciplinary
Tribunal operates independently of the Law Society.
Complaints against Ms Drinan came before the Disciplinary
Tribunal in May 2004. On considering the evidence
presented by the Law Society, the Tribunal found
that the complaints had been duly substantiated.
It may be helpful to explain that in addition
to imposing certain fines and costs penalties,
the Tribunal Order records as follows;
Tribunal noted with regret the Respondent's (Ms
Drinan) previous history of proven complaints
before the Tribunal which were all similar to
the complaints today. They formed the view that
the Respondent was not functioning at any acceptable
level as a single practitioner and that in the
interest of the public and the Respondent herself,
they are ordering that she is restricted from
practising on her own account or in partnership.
She may accept employment from another solicitor
provided they have at least seven years post qualification
experience. The Tribunal also orders that she
shall not work in any practice using her name
on the title or as one of the principals."
Tribunal were prepared to defer the implemantation
of the Order for a reasonable period to allow
Ms Drinan to make alternative arrangements. This
deferment initially applied until September 2004
with a subsequent deferral to a date than fixed
by the Tribunal at 6 January 2005.
As and from that date, Ms Drinan is not entitled
as a matter of law to practise on her own account.
If she continues to do so, she will not only be
in breach of the Order of the Tribunal, but will
also be committing a criminal offence. In these
circumstances the Law Society is under an obligation
to see that the terms of the Tribunal Order are
You will note that Ms Drinan is not inhibited
from practice as an employed solicitor.
The inability of Ms Drinan to continue in practice
on her own account is not an action taken by the
Law Society but is a function of an Order made
by the Disciplanary Tribunal. Ms Drinan has not
to our knowedge at any time sought to contest
or appeal the Orders made by the Disciplinary
For the Law Society
is responsible for closing Ms Drinan's practice
is failing the most marginalized and vulnerable
people in our society and depriving them of the
legal representation of their choice. - Eileen
Calder, the Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Centre
Sean Mc Aughey
most recent removal of Human Rights Advocate, Padraigin
Drinans inscription from her office door emanating
from a decision by a Disciplinary Tribunal presented
with evidence from the Law Society has eradicated
not only Ms Drinans right to practice law
as a single practitioner for the foreseeable future
but it has rendered null and void her more than
30 years of pioneering legal experience and achievement.
stipulations by the Disciplinary Tribunal seem to
cut off most reasonable options and serve only to
render Ms Drinans letterings as invisible
especially as a named partner on any other legal
advising door or business card. Whether such invisibility
is intended or not Ms Drinans horizons appear
to be little more than an office clerk providing
she can find a solicitor with at least seven years
post qualification experience to employ her.
onlookers might flippantly regard this affair as,
much ado about people with big letters after their
name, removing letterings. But ironically, the polar
opposite is being interpreted by countless frightened,
vulnerable and marginalized people in Ireland because
they largely accredit their ability to face life
once again to the compassionate and altruistic intervention
of Padraigin Drinan.
Calder of the Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Centre
Northern Ireland said, Whoever is responsible
for closing Ms Drinan's practice is failing the
most marginalized and vulnerable people in our society
and depriving them of the legal representation of
Calder said, Padraigin Drinan has given her
time and help free of charge to the Rape Crisis
Centre for the last twenty five years. It is the
opinion of our organization that there is no other
solicitor in the North of Ireland either professionally
capable or personally willing to represent and assist
these people to whom we have referred to Ms Drinan
over the years.
work said Ms Calder, with the Chinese and Indian
communities on immigration issues and on behalf
of refugees is unique to her practice, there is
no other lawyer in Northern Ireland who shares either
her level of expertise or interest in this work.
Calder further said, Not only has Padraigin
dealt professionally with more clients who have
been raped or sexually abused than any other solicitor
in Northern Ireland, she has also carried out much
research and entered submissions to working parties
and government commissions on changing Northern
Ireland's archaic laws on sexual offences. Again
this work is unpaid.
cannot think of another person I know, in any profession
who has shown the kind of single-minded dedication
to her life's work that Padraigin Drinan has. She
has done this with little thought of financial reward
and no thought of personal glory.