ICCL Fellowship 2021
The Irish Council of Civil Liberties have been a leading human rights organisation since 1976 and were founded by a former member of the Bar and President of Ireland, Mary Robinson. In the last year or so, the team at ICCL has doubled, allowing them to take on a variety of new work in different areas. From my perspective, this meant I had a wide range of areas in which I could contribute work.
Even though the fellowship is primarily aimed at procedural rights, ICCL were happy for me to work on any matters of interest to me and welcomed my views and opinions on a broad range of topics.
My work with ICCL
My most significant work with ICCL can be summarised as follows:
- COVID work: I contributed to the criminal justice chapters of the ICCL COVID Report. I also spoke to Kildare FM on the issue of mandatory hotel quarantine; this was my first media appearance so it was genuinely terrifying but ICCL provided great support and helped me prepare for it.
- Defence Rights in Evidentiary Proceedings Project: This is an EU project looking at defence rights which ICCL was involved in over 2021. I assisted in organising three events as part of this project and presented at two of these events myself on the topics of extradition and the historic position of legal aid in Ireland. ICCL were keen to push me to present at events where I felt comfortable to do so. I also assisted in reviewing the final DREP report.
- Judicial Reform: I co-drafted ICCL’s Submission to the Oireachtas Justice Committee on the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill 2020, following on from the superb work carried out by my predecessor, Colm Scott Byrne BL. I also appeared alongside Liam Herrick at the Oireachtas Justice Committee hearing which considered this submission.
- Special Criminal Court: I drafted ICCL’s submission to the Offences Against the State Act Review Group – a monstrous piece of work spanning around 64 pages and requiring circa 100 cups of Lyons tea to draft. I have also been assisting with ICCL’s general campaign against the Special Criminal Court, both through policy and media work, such as assisting with press releases and appearing on Newstalk and the Sunday Business Post podcast. All of this work has been immensely interesting and as a firm believer in the rights of the accused, I have really enjoyed having the opportunity to contribute to the conversation around the Special Criminal Court. I hope to continue this involvement into the future by working by ICCL on their “Coalition to Abolish the Special Criminal Court”. (If any readers are interested in finding out more about the coalition, drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org ).
- LSRA work: I drafted ICCL’s submission to the LSRA review group on the economic barriers facing young members of the Bar. I was particularly happy to work on this as it is something I am very passionate about. It also directly affects not only my own life at the Bar, but also others who come from a similar background and feel that they cannot pursue a career at the Bar as a result of the inordinate financial barriers which persist.
- Police Powers Bills: There were a number of submissions made by ICCL on the various Police Powers Bills published this year. I reviewed and amended two of ICCL’s submissions and also had the opportunity to appear alongside Head of Legal Policy, Doireann Ansbro, at the Oireachtas Justice Committee meeting in which the Police Powers Bill was considered.
- Rule of Law Report: I contributed a number of chapters to the International Rule of Law report for Ireland.
Why do the ICCL Fellowship?
Working with ICCL gave me an opportunity to have a voice on matters which are important to me and have a real impact on society. Being given a platform to speak on these issues, and also having an equally passionate team of experts to encourage and support you, is not something that most people experience in their early years at the Bar. Life at the Bar is hectic and immensely stressful. As a young practitioner, work at the Courts involves the important building blocks of procedure and working up from smaller applications. Working with ICCL is a great opportunity to do more big picture work – and of course, is the perfect avenue through which to channel your inner Adrian Hardiman or Mary Robinson!
The Fellowship has also improved my knowledge, ability and confidence as a practitioner. Aside from building on my legal knowledge, I developed other skills such as those relating to media work and general presentation skills. Through team meetings and queries, I have also been exposed to a wide range of other work that I would otherwise know little about. I have also been able to support other team members with projects that have greatly shaped the social, political and legal landscape in the past year. Being able to assist an organisation like ICCL in having such an impact at a crucial time for the country was an invaluable experience and one which I am immensely grateful to have been afforded.
I would encourage any young practitioners who are passionate about human rights to apply for the ICCL Fellowship.
About the 2022 Fellowship
The Bar of Ireland – ICCL Fellowship will soon be seeking applications from interested candidates in Years 1-3 and who have a strong interest in criminal justice reform and practice.
- A primary aim of the Fellowship will be the professional development of a barrister who intends to practice in the area of criminal law.
- This Fellowship builds on the long relationship between The Bar of Ireland and ICCL and the mutual interest of both bodies in supporting the rule of law, and strengthening the protection of procedural rights in the Irish criminal justice system. The Fellowship also reflects the Bar’s strong support for the administration of justice, civil liberties and the protection of constitutional and human rights.
Practitioners in Years 1 – 3 will be notified directly, and via InBrief.