The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Leading Human Rights Solicitor "Shut Down" by Law Society

“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 their choice.”
- Eileen Calder, the Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Centre,
Northern Ireland


Sean Mc Aughey • 13, 14, and 15th January 2005

Clients 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.

Former 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 unavailable.

Speaking 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".

At 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?"

"Padraigin 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 campaign."

A 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."

Padraigin 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 other solicitors."

Ms 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.

Statement by the Law Society: Received - 14 January 2005 08:31

Ms 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;

"The 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."

The 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 complied with.

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 Tribunal.

Don Anderson
For the Law Society


15th January 2005

“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 their choice.” - Eileen Calder, the Rape Crisis & Sexual Abuse Centre Northern Ireland

By Sean Mc Aughey

The most recent removal of Human Rights Advocate, Padraigin Drinan’s 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 Drinan’s 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.

Further stipulations by the Disciplinary Tribunal seem to cut off most reasonable options and serve only to render Ms Drinan’s 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 Drinan’s 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.

Many 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.

Eileen 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 their choice.”

Ms 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.”

“Padraigin's 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.”

Ms 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.”

“I 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.”




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

14 January 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

Criminalising Republicanism
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Brian Mór

Leading Human Rights Solicitor "Shut Down" by Law Society
Sean Mc Aughey

A Little Known Republican Military Group: Saor Eire
Liam O Ruairc

Too Bad The North's Future Depends On Tony Blair's Bravery
Paul A. Fitzsimmons

Free Tali Fahima - an anti occupation activist in the Israeli prisons
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Marie Wright
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10 January 2005

SF - Securocrat Fantasists
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Mick Hall

Merge Ahead?
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DPP Cover-up RUC/PSNI Malpractice Yet Again
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RSF Are The Sole Inheritors of the Sinn Fein Mantle
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Óglaigh na hÉireann New Year Statement 2005

The Caged Men
Ruairi O'Driscoll

Changing Fortunes
Anthony McIntyre



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