My posting ‘Two Views’ was a comment on the ridiculous practice of prosecuting people because they had broken what is effectively a religious law. Michael Kelly makes an equally valid point, strongly supported by comments, that judges should not be allowed to pick and choose which laws are to be applied.
The existence of medieval like religious laws and the casual attitude to law in general are simply reflections of the kind of country we live in.
Here are just a few examples.
The Beef Tribunal uncovered massive fraud and corruption within the Irish meat industry. Apart from a few minor officials who received a slap on the wrist nobody was made accountable. The only person to be charged, for refusing to reveal her sources, was Susan O’Keeffe the Granada Television reporter who broke the story.
It would have been extremely embarrassing for Ireland if O’Keeffe was found guilty after the tribunal whitewash had exonerated all those who were actually guilty. A legal technicality was conveniently discovered and O’Keeffe was acquitted.
It is almost certain that Bertie Ahern committed perjury at the Mahon Tribunal. The facts are simple. He stated under oath that he never dealt in significant amounts of sterling. The tribunal produced irrefutable evidence that Ahern’s statement was untrue.
In a functional democracy it wouldn’t matter that the tribunal was ongoing, it wouldn’t matter that the alleged perjurer was Prime Minister, immediate police and legal action would have been taken.
The conflict between Irish Times journalists Geraldine Kennedy and Colm Keena and the Mahon Tribunal over the disclosure of sources is still unresolved nearly a year after the event.
It is a very serious case where the journalists openly admit that they destroyed evidence despite being ordered not to do so by the Tribunal. It doesn’t matter that the journalists are, at least, morally right, it doesn’t matter that the tribunal is ongoing.
If Ireland was a country where the law enjoyed the same respect as it does in functional democracies both these journalists would long ago have been made accountable for their actions.
These cases and countless other examples ranging across every level of society demonstrate that Ireland is not like any other Western democracy, that Ireland is a country where the law is manipulated to suit events and circumstances rather than acting as a protector of society in general.