Fitzpatrick decision: A Banana Republic decision


By Anthony Sheridan

If I was an establishment judge and wanted to make a questionable and disgraceful decision that would damage my country and its people I would announce my decision the day after a major international act of terrorism.

If I was an establishment politician responsible for setting up a law enforcement agency with a mandate to bring white-collar criminals to justice but who were also friends of my political class I would ensure that the agency was starved of funds, starved of effective legislation and led by compliant staff who were willing to operate under political instruction.


Dolores O’Riordan judgement a disgrace


By Anthony Sheridan

The decision by judge Patrick Durkan to allow Cranberries singer Dolores O’Riordan buy her way out of a criminal offence is a disgrace.

First, let’s look at the offences committed by O’Riordan.

Caused a disturbance on an Aer Lingus flight including stepping on the foot of a flight attendant.

Assaulted two members of the airport police at Shannon.

Obstructed a police officer in the execution of his duty.

Escaped from police custody.

Headbutted and spat in the face of a policeman.

Falsely accused police officers of sexual assault.

These are very serious offences and would normally result in a conviction and probably a prison sentence. The judge had three options:

Acquit her on the grounds that she was suffering from a mental illness at the time.

Find her guilty and impose an appropriate sentence.

Let her off completely but make it look respectable under the cloak of the court poor box charade.

By letting her off the judge lessens respect for the law and increases the suspicion that the court poor box is nothing more than a mechanism under which those with influence can avoid the consequences of having a criminal record.

The judge is reported as saying that O’Riordan was treated in exactly the same way as any other member of the public but then went on to completely contradict that claim by saying:

Because she is a public figure, she not only had to deal with any sentence or sanction that the court imposed but also one that the public would impose.

This means, in effect, that public figures are entitled to greater leniency simply because they are public figures.

In my opinion O’Riordan should have been found guilty, fined €6,000 and told to get on with living with the reality of having a criminal record, just like ordinary people have to.

The court poor box perversion should be discontinued before it does any more damage to the standing of the law.

‘Slab’ Murphy sentencing decision: A manipulation of justice for political ends?


By Anthony Sheridan

In a functional democracy the decision to defer the sentencing of Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy until polling day would be seen as a blatant manipulation of the justice system in support of a political agenda.

And this questionable decision is not without precedent. In 2007 Judge Alan Mahon suspended the tribunal he was chairing until after the approaching election when then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was due to answer allegations made against him.

So, in 2007, a judge suspends an investigation that, if it had continued, would have resulted in bad publicity for a Taoiseach and his party in the run up to an election.

In 2016 a court decides to deliver a sentence on polling day which is likely to deliver massive political advantage to the incumbent government and do serious damage to the prospects of an opposition party.

The court could have waited until Monday 29 to deliver its sentence ensuring that the event remained solely one of justice. The decision to deliver the sentence on polling day has, whether intentional or not, turned the event into one of justice and politics.

No functional democracy would tolerate such an apparent manipulation of justice.