Archive

Author Archive

Fathers and the Law seminar at DCU postponed due to volcanic ash aviation disruption

April 19, 2010 Leave a comment

Unfortunately, the seminar on “Fatherhood, Law and Personal Life: Rethinking Debates about Fathers and Law” which was to be delivered by Professor Richard Collier at Dublin City University on this Wednesday April 21st has had to be postponed due to the current disruption in aviation caused by the cloud of volcanic ash. It will be re-arranged in the Autumn – details to follow.

Categories: Conferences and Events Tags: ,

Reminder: Fathers and the Law Seminar at DCU

April 15, 2010 Leave a comment

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED  – THE SPEAKER IS UNABLE TO ATTEND DUE TO THE DISRUPTION TO AIRLINE SERVICES CAUSED BY THE VOLCANIC ASH CLOUD.

This is a reminder that the School of Law and Government, along with the Socio-Legal Research Centre, at Dublin City University is hosting its Inaugural Annual Law and Society Lecture at 6.30pm on Wednesday April 21st, 2010 in the Mella Carroll Lecture Theatre, Nursing Building, DCU.

The lecture, entitled “Fatherhood, Law and Personal Life: Rethinking Debates about Fathers and Law” will be delivered by Professor Richard Collier from Newcastle Law School and will be chaired by the Honorable Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission.

Further information is available here.

To RSVP for this event please email martina.reddy@dcu.ie

Categories: Conferences and Events Tags:

“Romeo and Juliet”: Gender discrimination law challenge rejected

March 26, 2010 2 comments

The High Court has today rejected a challenge to the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 2006 which was based on a claim of gender discrimination. The case involved a young man, now aged 18, who had sexual intercourse with a girl of 14 when he himself was 15.

The legislation in question provides for the offences of “defilement of a child under 15 years of age” (s. 2) and “defilement of a child under 17 years of age” (s. 3). Under both of these provisions it is an offence to engage in a sexual act with a child under the relevant age. However, s. 5 of the 2006 Act states that

A female child under the age of 17 years shall not be guilty of an offence under this Act by reason only of her engaging in an act of sexual intercourse.

The claim before  the High Court was that the 2006 Act involved old-fashioned gender discrimination, which had no legitimate justification. Read more…

Passports, Industrial Action and Constitutional Rights

March 24, 2010 Leave a comment

At a meeting of the Oireachtas Committee on Foreign Affairs today, Fine Gael’s Alan Shatter T.D. suggested that recent industrial action by public service workers in the passport office may be breaching constitutional rights.

The industrial action in question has caused a backlog of over 40,000 passport applications and citizens are currently experiencing long delays in acquiring their passports. As noted by Deputy Shatter, the right of Irish citizens to travel abroad and to obtain a passport (subject to meeting the relevant requirements) was established as constitutional in nature by the Irish courts in the 1970s. In State (M) v A.G. [1979] IR 73, it was held by the High Court that Irish citizens have an unenumerated constitutional right to a passport (with certain conditions applying and other restrictions of a legal nature operating).  That particular case dealt with s.40 of the Adoption Act, 1952 which forbade the removal of certain categories of children from the State and made no allowances for exceptions to that rule.  This was found to be a breach of the recognised constitutional rights. Read more…

Inaugural Annual Law and Society Lecture at DCU: “‘Fatherhood, Law and Personal Life”

March 11, 2010 2 comments

THIS EVENT HAS BEEN POSTPONED  – THE SPEAKER IS UNABLE TO ATTEND DUE TO THE DISRUPTION TO AIRLINE SERVICES CAUSED BY THE VOLCANIC ASH CLOUD.

The School of Law and Government, along with the Socio-Legal Research Centre, at Dublin City University is hosting its Inaugural Annual Law and Society Lecture on Wednesday April 21st, 2010 in the Mella Carroll Lecture Theatre, Nursing Building, DCU. The lecture will begin at 6.30pm and will be followed by a reception.

 

The lecture is entitled

“Fatherhood, Law and Personal Life: Rethinking Debates about Fathers and Law”

and will be delivered by Professor Richard Collier from Newcastle Law School. The Chairperson for the evening will be the Honorable Mrs. Justice Catherine McGuinness, President of the Law Reform Commission.

 

About the Speaker

Richard Collier is Professor of Law at Newcastle University, UK. His primary research interests concern questions around law and gender, with a particular focus on issues surrounding men and masculinities, ranging from law, families and social change to legal education, crime and criminology.

His books include The ‘Man’ Of Law: Essays on Law, Men and Gender (2009),  Masculinity, Law and the Family (1995), Fragmenting Fatherhood: A Socio-Legal Study (with Sally Sheldon, 2008), Masculinities, Crime and Criminology: Men, Corporeality and the Criminal(ised) Body (1998) and Fathers’ Rights Activism and Law Reform in Comparative Perspective (edited with Sally Sheldon, 2007). Richard is an Editorial Board member of Social and Legal Studies.

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission issue Report on the Death of Terence Wheelock

March 10, 2010 5 comments

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC), established in May 2007, has today issued its first report carried out under s.102(4) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This provision allows for GSOC to initiate an investigation, without receiving a specific complaint, if it appears that a member of An Garda Síochána may have committed an offence or behaved in a manner that would justify disciplinary proceedings, and such an investigation seems “desirable in the public interest”.  This first report is based on an investigation into the death of Mr. Terence Wheelock on September 16, 2005, following a period of detention at Store Street garda station (Report: Press Release). Terence Wheelock was arrested on June 2, 2005 and was found, later that same day, unconscious in a cell at Store Street garda station. He never regained consciousness and died at the Mater Hospital on September 16, 2005.

The GSOC investigation, which began in July 2007, set out to establish whether or not any act or omission of any member of An Garda Síochána caused the death of or serious harm to Terence Wheelock. Prior to the GSOC investigation, an internal Garda inquiry into the matter was carried out and an inquest found (with a jury verdict of 4:3) that Mr. Wheelock had died as a result of suicide by hanging. Read more…

Categories: Policing Tags:

Irish Government should “Come Clean” on Initial Findings of Torture Committee

February 10, 2010 1 comment

 

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) have this morning called on the Irish government to publish the initial findings of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) which visited Ireland, for the fifth time, from January 25th-February 5th. Preliminary observations were presented by the CPT to the Irish authorities following their review of conditions of detention in prisons, safeguards in place in Garda stations, conditions in psychiatric institutions and an establishment for the intellectually disabled.

Director of the ICCL, Mark Kelly, called on the government to release the findings and to

come clean about the parlous state of our custody centres…

Executive Director of the IPRT, Liam Herrick, believes that the CPT’s preliminary findings will have documented the inadequate progress made by the Irish government in relation to tackling overcrowding in our prisons, the practice of “slopping out” and other related matters.

The press release is available here. Information on the CPT’s previous visits to Ireland and previous responses from the Irish government are available here.

New Forensic Evidence and DNA Database Bill published

January 21, 2010 2 comments

On Tuesday, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern, published the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill 2010. This Bill repeals the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence) Act 1990 in its entirety. It provides for the taking of three categories of samples: (1) non-intimate and (2) intimate samples from persons arrested and detained in garda custody in order to prove or disprove their involvement in the commission of a particular offence, and (3) samples for the purpose of creating a DNA profile to be kept on the DNA database. Samples in this third category may not generally be taken from children under 14 years of age. The Bill also provides for the taking of samples from volunteers and others.

The Bill goes on to provide for the establishment of a DNA database – one part of which will retain DNA profiles for the purposes of criminal investigations, and a second, separate part of which will retain DNA material in order to assist in tracing and identifying missing or unknown persons. These two parts of the database are not to be cross-referenced. The database will be administered by the Forensic Science Laboratory, which is to be renamed in Irish – Eolaíocht Fhóiréinseach Éireann – and hold the initials EFÉ.

As reported in the Irish Times, the Minister in introducing the Bill said that all persons serving sentences for serious offences when the new law comes into force will be required to give a sample for the database. This will include people in prison and anyone on temporary release or on suspended sentences, as well as anyone on the sex offenders’ register.

Following the recent jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights (S and Marper v UK) the Bill provides that only persons convicted of serious offences will have their DNA material held indefinitely. Persons who are acquitted or against whom no proceedings are instituted will have their DNA material removed on application to the Commissioner of An Garda Síochána (with further appeal to the District Court). Where no application is made, the default periods for destruction of the material are 10 years in the case of a profile and three in the case of a sample.

Mark Kelly, director of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL), has said that the ICCL will review the Bill in order to establish whether it strikes the right balance between catching criminals and protecting private life.

Reasonable Suspicion for Arrest and Evidence at Trial: Supreme Court Excludes Consideration of Exclusionary Rule

January 19, 2010 2 comments

Yesterday, the Irish Supreme Court issued its judgment in the much anticipated case of DPP (Walsh) v Cash. The 7-judge court neatly side-stepped any indepth examination or reconsideration of the exclusionary rule, which it was thought that this case might produce. Although defence counsel sought to rely on that rule, the Supreme Court held that it was inapplicable on the facts and focused instead on the distinction between material which is required to ground a legal arrest and material which is presented as evidence at trial.

To briefly recap on the facts of this case, which was previously discussed on this blog here: the appellant, John Cash, was charged in relation to a burglary which occurred in July 2003 (at which time he was a minor).  Fingerprints had been taken at the scene of the burglary (referred to in the Supreme Court judgment as “Prints 2”) and these were found to match fingerprints reviously taken from Mr. Cash which were held in the Garda Technical Bureau (“Prints 1”). On the basis of this match, Mr. Cash was arrested and he thereafter consented to provide a new set of fingerprints (“Prints 3”). The prosecution had been unable to clearly state the legal position of Prints 1; whether they had been taken with consent or otherwise and whether or not they ought to have been destroyed following the passage of some time and the fact that no proceedings had been instituted.

Read more…

Police Governance and Accountability: Challenges and Outlook – Conference Report

December 7, 2009 Leave a comment

Last Thursday and Friday, December 3 and 4, saw an international conference of a very high calibre take place in Limerick (see press coverage in the Irish Times and the Irish Examiner). This conference (previously advertised on this blog here), which focused on Police Governance and Accountability, was organised through the Centre for Criminal Justice in the University of Limerick by a contributor to this blog, Dr. Vicky Conway (formerly of UL, now at Queen’s University Belfast) and Professor Dermot Walsh (UL).

The conference was very well-attended and drew an impressive array of scholars and practitioners researching and working in the area of policing both nationally and internationally. The main plenary presentations were given by Professor Andrew Goldsmith from the University of Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia, Professor James Sheptycki from York University in Toronto, Canada and an intriguing turn-and-turn-about final plenary presentation from Dr. Vicky Conway and Professor Dermot Walsh.

Professor Goldsmith discussed the manner in which modern technology, such as mobile phones, digital cameras and the internet (specifically sites like YouTube), are allowing for a new sort of transparency in policing whereby previously invisible police actions can be observed, recorded and shown to the public at large. He gave the example of the death of a Polish immigrant, Robert Dziekanski, following the police use of a taser gun on him in Vancouver airport which was caught on video. Professor Goldsmith used the phrase “sous-veillance” for this type of recording of police actions which comes from beneath and can be contrasted with the more traditional sur-veillance (which comes from the top down). All of this, he suggested, will have an impact on the ability of the police to manage public perceptions of policing, on the demands that are made of oversight agencies, and on the practice of policing in general.

Professor Sheptycki discussed the challenges which exist for transnational policing in the modern world. Employing interesting analogies from the world of art and art history, Professor Sheptycki explored the concept of “constabularly ethics” and sought to ask the question, in the context of European co-operation in policing, “what is good policing?” Professor Sheptycki was particularly interested in “The Raft of the Medusa” by Gericault, which is housed at the Louvre, and depicts a scene of tragedy on a raft set adrift after the wreck of a French naval vessel. Of 147 people aboard the raft, only 15 survived. The painting shows a point of crisis but with the hope of a rescue ship in the distance. Professor Sheptycki suggests that the concept of the “constabulary ethic” may bring hope to the future of transnational policing.

While each of the plenary sessions were thought-provoking, from an Irish perspective the swift overview of the Garda Síochána, from their initial establishment through to current challenges and future possibilities delivered in this third session was particularly interesting. Dr. Conway and Professor Walsh raised many questions about the level of political control of the gardaí provided for under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the potential strengths and weaknesses of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission and the general secrecy of the Gardaí as an institution. Dr. Conway gave a most insightful description of the work of the Morris Tribunal, the allegations which led to its establishment and the findings of Mr. Justice Morris (all of which are detailed in her forthcoming book “The Blue Wall of Silence: The Morris Tribunal and Police Accountability in Ireland“). Professor Walsh mentioned the lack of statistics on many policing issues in this jurisdiction. He suggested that material such as The Garda Code ought to be made publicly available and was of the opinion that the availability of such material and public knowledge about the training and ethics of the gardaí might in fact increase public confidence in the force.

More than 40 papers were delivered over the course of the two-day event on topics including: juvenile justice and alternative policing; police complaints and accountability; policing of vulnerable groups; new technologies in policing; police culture and decision-making; local policing; policing and constitutional values; policing and the law of evidence; and many other related matters. Rights issues which arose included: incursions on the right to silence; the protection of the suspect right to pre-trial legal advice; victims’ rights; privacy rights and the use of DNA; the consequences of police abuse of power and the exclsuion of evidence; children’s rights; privacy rights and the use of CCTV; and many more.

This was a most successful and informative conference which allowed for transnational discussions at the macro level on the changing nature of modern policing and the challenges for the investigation of crime in a globalised world, as well as debates and comparisons on the details of policing powers and experiences at a micro level in different jurisdictions.