New Criminal Court Is A Dangerous Election Gimmick

Independent TD Mattie McGrath has strongly criticised the decision of the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to propose the establishment of a second Special Criminal Court. Deputy McGrath was speaking as the decision by the Minister has raised serious questions about the credibility of the proposal among senior legal observers:

“There is a genuine concern that this decision will prove to be an overly blunt tool to crack what is admittedly a very serious problem within our society.

Apart from the fact that this is blatantly a clear abuse of Executive power, there are also concerns emerging that the new Court will be in direct violation of Ireland’s international legal obligations.

That alone could prove to be totally counter-productive in terms of the eradication of the problem of criminality within some organised groups because it leaves the door open to appeals to the Europe etc.

This is to say nothing of the massive costs which are bound to be associated with an Court whose authority rests on dubious legality

We also know that the existing Court of Appeal is simply not functioning as the Minister said it would prior to the referendum which established it.

Instead what we have seen is yet another layer of legal bureaucracy that has done next to nothing to shift the backlog which existed.

 On top of all this, there are still concerns around the issues I highlighted last February around court procedures which have come into place since the establishment of the Court of Appeal and which are restricting the constitutional rights of citizens to access the courts.

The fundamental rights of the citizen in relation to this specific issue are guaranteed in Article 40 of the Constitution.

That Article contains provisions governing habeas corpus through which an individual may not only challenge the legality of his detention, but may do so with the reasonable expectation that this challenge will be conducted swiftly.

Since the establishment of the new Court of Appeal, I have witnessed a disturbing judicial tendency to effectively circumvent the constitutional rights of citizens in terms of challenging unlawful detention.

This new Special court will only add to all of these difficulties and make a bad situation even worse,” concluded Deputy McGrath.


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