| 14.9°C Belfast

Beattie pleads case of victims after Adams’ legal aid bill topped £100k

Close

Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

Doug Beattie

Doug Beattie

Gerry Adams

A unionist MLA has hit out after it emerged former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams received more than £100,000 in legal aid for a court challenge over his Maze Prison escape bids.

Mr Adams last week won his appeal to have two convictions for attempting to escape in the 1970s overturned.

The Supreme Court said his convictions were quashed because his original detention during internment was unlawful.

The Sunday World reported that Mr Adams received legal aid for his court challenge.

The total legal aid costs of the case before the Court of Appeal, an earlier stage in the process, were £106,478 plus VAT.

The costs of the case before the Supreme Court are not known.

UUP MLA Doug Beattie said in some cases, relatives of people killed in IRA bombings have had to fight to secure legal aid for court challenges.

Mr Beattie said: “I think it is quite clear that if the system allows for Gerry Adams to get legal aid, then that is the system, and so he can avail of it exactly the same as everybody else.

“My concern is that there are many victims who cannot get legal aid.

“But if the system allows it, then he has the right to avail of it like everyone else.

“But it’s a hard pill to swallow, in this particular instance.

“I think the whole legal aid system needs to be looked at,” he added.

Kenny Donaldson from Innocent Victims United said: “If reports are accurate that Gerry Adams received tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to pursue historical revisionism, then this marks a watershed from which direct action is needed.”

He added that groups representing IRA terror victims had many times had their legal aid requests denied.

“Repeatedly these people were knocked back for an array of reasons but they persevered,” he said.

“Practically no legal aid has been awarded post 1998 for people seeking to take on terrorist suspects within the civil courts.”

Following last week’s Supreme Court ruling, it is thought there may be more former internees who may be able to sue the government. Padraig O Muirigh, director at O Muirigh Solicitors in Belfast, said: “The Supreme Court judgment in the Gerry Adams case is very significant and has the potential to impact on many of our cases.

“We are currently reviewing hundreds of Interim Custody Orders we have in our possession to ascertain if the Adams judgment has any bearing on their case.”

The Belfast Telegraph contacted Sinn Fein in relation to Mr Adams’ legal aid claim but did not receive a response.

Belfast Telegraph