Judge Neilan refused to grant legal aid to a man who owns a car valued at €3,000, telling him to sell the vehicle and pay his legal fees.
Gerry Miller of Catherinestown, Gaybrook appeared before Mullingar District Court charged with drink driving at Cullion Beg on October 21 and solicitor Susan Fay applied for legal aid for her client who had fallen on hard times.
“Why should the tax payer be burdened with your legal fees if you have the luxury of driving around in a €3,000 car?” asked the judge. “Does it run on water?”
Referring to the current economic climate and the upcoming budget, the judge said he was “considering old age pensioners who are worrying if their old age pension is going to be reduced”.
“Some never had the luxury of a bicycle,” he added.
He then referred to a radio discussion where a woman, who had been one of14 children, described how she and her siblings grew up with “nothing” but had gone around their locality, sought work and “got whatever pence” they could to make ends meet.
The woman had said she was “sick and tired of listening to people coming before the courts with all their sad tales of woe and hardship in life”.
She, on the other hand had gotten on with life, offering her services by providing labour in the field.
“I don’t make any apology for making that order,” said the judge deferring legal aid to the defendant’s next appearance on February 18.
“And I don’t make any apology for repeating what that lady said,” he added.