Autrefois Acquit

The Dáil is getting over the shock of the defeat on the Lisbon referendum.

Today, an almighty row broke out when justice minister Dermot Ahern didn’t show up to a debate on the renewal of the Offences Against the State Act.

The row broke out for a second time when Fine Gael learned he was at a press conference instead.

This was a cynical political move designed to distract attention from their legislation on victims’ rights, they decided.

Ahern certainly announced some headline grabbing measures at the press conference, including a weakening of the principle of double jeopardy, a legal principle that can be traced back to Norman times.

Fine Gael’s Alan Shatter responded that the proposals were low on specifics, unlike his own bill which is due for debate next week.

Almost ignored in the ensuing row was the comment from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, that the new laws ‘seem to be changing rights for the accused, without addressing the rights of victims’.

Not to mention that the rights of the accused exist so that we don’t end up with more victims, this time from miscarriages of justice.

Unfortunately, ‘lock ’em up’ resonates more with the voters.

By Gerard Cunningham

Gerard Cunningham occupies his time working as a journalist, writer, sub-editor, blogger and tweeter, yet still finds himself underemployed. Go figure.

2 comments

  1. the principle of double jeopardy, a legal principle that can be traced back to Norman times

    What Gavan Duffy would have called an essentially alien import, then.

    Unfortunately, ‘lock ‘em up’ resonates more with the voters

    In difficult times, Teh People do long for the smack of firm government. And what times are not difficult?

  2. the principle of double jeopardy, a legal principle that can be traced back to Norman times

    What Gavan Duffy would have called an essentially alien import, then.

    I was originally going to say Roman and Canon law, but I decided not to gild the lily too much. Equally alien, though Gavin Duffy might disagree.

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