Jim Allister: We should be told why anyone thought that Gerry Adams was deserving of legal aid

Following press reports that Gerry Adams had received legal aid to fund his challenge to two convictions for attempted escape I wrote to the Legal Services Agency raising two issues.

Friday, 22nd May 2020, 5:05 pm
Updated Friday, 22nd May 2020, 11:45 pm
Jim Allister QC is leader of Traditional Unionist Voice and MLA for North Antrim

Was it true that Adams received legal aid? And, if so, how much?

Secondly, how on earth was he deemed eligible for such funding given his apparent financial means, including a generous pay off from the Irish taxpayer when he retired as a TD?

Innocent victims of the terrorism Adams not only excused but justified and defended will be disgusted to learn that he received a reported total of £106,478.49 in legal aid.

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News of this kick in the teeth is all the more offensive coming as it does on the same day as we learn that a pension for victims is to be delayed.

While many innocent victims have never had their day in court, Adams has been happy to use the British legal system.

In contrast with the countless victims of the IRA, who never enjoyed a right of appeal against the summary decision of the IRA to murder them, Adams benefits from appeal to the British courts whose judges the Provos brutally murdered.

No right to life for IRA victims, but a right of appeal for Adams!

Justice in any court this side of eternity is still denied for the vast majority of IRA victims.

My thoughts are with those victims who will doubtless feel aggrieved at the failure of the state to fulfil its responsibility to them while facilitating Adams.

Not only that but the taxpayer has footed the very substantial bill to allow him to use the British legal system.

It is wrong, outrageous indeed, that innocent victims like those of the Hyde Park bombing had to fight a protracted battle to secure legal aid to pursue John Downey while Adams was gifted free legal representation costing a sum of this magnitude.

Just how anyone thought Adams was deserving of legal aid, particularly in view of his apparent means, remains an unanswered question.

• Jim Allister QC is leader of Traditional Unionist Voice and MLA for North Antrim