Fitzgerald: not being a lawyer can be advantage
JUSTICE Minister Frances Fitzgerald says it is a "real advantage" she is not a lawyer.
Ms Fitzgerald, the first non-lawyer to occupy the post of justice minister in 17 years, says she has no shortage of legal advice around her.
"I feel it's a real advantage that I'm coming in as a non-lawyer," Ms Fitzgerald told the Parchment, the magazine of the Dublin Solicitors Bar Association (DSBA).
"It brings a freshness and different perspective".
Ms Fitzgerald stressed she was not saying that being a lawyer as justice minister was a negative – and was quick to praise her predecessor, Alan Shatter, who resigned in the wake of a series of scandals involving alleged garda misconduct.
The 63-year-old denied she was "the sort of person who has a driven ambition".
And she also told the Parchment's Stuart Gilhooly that she thinks age is irrelevant.
It now falls to Ms Fitzgerald to complete the task of reform of the legal sector pioneered by Mr Shatter. What hope the legal profession has of seeking major changes to the 2011 Legal Services Regulation Bill seem remote, after Ms Fitzgerald told the Parchment that she intends to complete the passage of the 2011 bill next Autumn.
Yesterday the DSBA, which represents more than 3,000 solicitors in the Dublin region, took issue with comments by Finance Minister Michael Noonan that the legal profession is opposed to change.
Mr Noonan made the remarks after the Law Society, the ruling body for solicitors, objected to planned court closures in the capital.
"These ill-considered reforms to the District Court bear all the hallmarks of penny-wise, pound-foolish and will put the family, criminal and civil systems in Dublin city centre under severe pressure if enacted," said Keith Walsh, DSBA president.