As part of the Stockholm Programme on Justice the EU is gearing up to put in place certain common minimum standards in the context of criminal proceedings. Key to that is the automatic right of access to a lawyer in the investigation stage of any crime.
No such automatic right exists now and the Gardai are not obliged to tell an arrested person to get a solicitor thought they do read over the constitutional right of access to a solicitor in a form called a Notice of Rights but often little emphasis is placed on this and in my 14 years of experience some investigators will generally downplay the need to get a lawyer. Overall the Gardai are quiet proactive in ensuring access to a lawyer it must be said.
It i not commonly known but if a person is arrested and detained in Ireland on suspicion of having committed a criminal offence the detained person is only entitled to have reasonable access to a solicitor of their own choosing during the detention. The Solicitor cannot sit in with the client in the interview which obviously can have a significant bearing on the outcome of the whole investigative process. Is the client giving incriminating answers or answers consistent with innocence. A solicitor can properly make a judgement call in such instances with a a professional and non-emotive attachment at the issue
An arrested person or a suspect who voluntarily attends for interview, should never do so without consulting a solicitor preferably one who works in criminal law.
It will be very interesting to see how the new automatic service will be paid for. It will be very demanding on both solicitors and the investigating Gardai. Detentions in serious cases can last anything form a few hours to up to 7 days