(photo credit)

‘Main of the Match: Appalling Conflations and Tenuous Links As An Island Recovers From A Close Brush With Injustice…

Today HRinI is pleased to host this week’s Blawg Review, following in the footsteps of previous Irish hosts Daithí Mac Síthigh and Eoin O’Dell. Blawg Review presents a selection of the best of the past week’s blogging on legal issues.

The post which follows falls far short of what Marco Giloarmi called for on Wednesday when he outlined his conception of a Republic of Legal Letters. But, these are difficult times for Ireland, and the wonder is really that I can bring myself to blog at all. While the legal blogosphere has mostly been excited about Google Scholar’s new law search functionality, the Irish have had altogether more important things to worry about. The nation as Tom Humphries has it in the Irish Times, stands in ‘a cold and deep puddle of reality‘ (for much of the country, all too literally ) after a bruising encounter with France in the World Cup playoffs, reported by MSNBC here under the fabulous headline ‘Oui were robbed‘. Thierry, how could you? (Twitter yields up such gems as ‘If I even SEE a croissant tomorrow…‘ and our readers from abroad can measure the national mood by its tried and tested barometer Liveline – here and here). Kevin Jon Heller discusses the matter with the respect it deserves here on the venerable Opinio Juris. The debacle has been treated as a priority by our political leaders. It was raised in the Dáil on Thursday morning, the Taoiseach discussed it with President Sarkozy, (who was unmoved – perhaps the Taoiseach should have brushed up on his bargaining skills at Negotiation Board) and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform has demanded a rematch.

A casual observer of Irish affairs might be forgiven for thinking that there was nothing else of interest afoot in the country, and indeed the Irish have a tendency to follow Bill Shankly in our approach to assessing matters of life and death. But we are serious folk here at HRinI and so we are pleased to correct that impression by highlighting one or two small human rights matters, which we suppose – perhaps more in hope than in expectation – will distract the Minister for Justice from the football for a while.

  • Over at Cearta, Eoin O’Dell has been blogging about the ban on political advertising in the new Broadcasting Act, 2009.
  • Cedar Lounge notes that Fine Gael has proposed this, which is yet another one of these, and designed to deal with that.
  • Anthony Sheridan at Public Inquiry has been busily exploring the provisions of the new Mass cards legislation (on which see here), by attempting to go into the Mass cards sale business himself.
  • The Equality and Rights Alliance briefed UN Commissioner for Human Rights Navanethem Pillay on the government’s efforts to undermine our human rights watchdogs.
  • The Children’s Rights Alliance and the CCJHR blog review the state of children’s rights in Ireland on the 20th anniversary of the UNCRC (which the United States, famously, has yet to ratify perhaps now even in the face of Somalia’s late decision to do so).
  • Suzy Byrne at Maman Poulet notes Minister Ahern’s promise that the Civil Partnership Bill (on which see our coverage here, here and here) will be debated early in December, and promises a live-blog of the debates. Cases in New York and California this week give an indication of the depth of the waters into which we are about to wade. Irish readers might pause to think how far our family law has come in such a short time; 14 years ago today the country stood on the brink of a referendum which would remove the constitutional prohibition on divorce.
  • Up North, the amusingly titled ‘Ulster’s Doomed’ blogs about one of our favourite hobby horses; children and religious identity. Fellow Northern blog Conor’s Commentary reflects on the value of apologies for past wrongs; Thierry, mon gars, there’s still time to do it properly.

Evidence is an important business (in more serious contexts a very important business, as these law bloggers reminded us this week) A video referee would have saved Irish heartache, but as it was, as Crooked Timber’s post on Posner, soccer and the competence of regulators highlights, we were left to observe the maddening actions of all-too rational actors; new paternalism anyone? Paul Anthony McDermott, writing in the Sunday Times, promises that the prospects for satisfying litigation aren’t as slight as all that

Are there (tenuous, barely supportable) lessons for law in matches like this?  The judge-umpire metaphor is masterfully deconstructed here, via Sports Law Blog. But can we go further? Is the refusal of FIFA, the international governing body of football, to permit a replay of the France-Ireland game symptomatic of the broader inability of international bodies, charged with addressing grave injustice, to respond in a manner which appeals to the sensibilities of the common man (on which see any post from this week’s embarrassment of riches from the International Criminal Law Bureau)?

The international regulator has failed us. What about an international court? Well, not a lot of people know this, but there is a Court of Arbitration for Sport. It exists, but they probably won’t make France replay the match. Clearly, this court needs urgent reform. Along similar lines (keep up!) ECHR Blog has this report on a London NGO roundtable at which groups discussed their hopes for the outcome of the Interlaken Conference on the future of the European Court of Human Rights (more detail from the Court here). The United States has historically placed rather less faith in international courts: Beth Van Schaak of IntLawGrrls blogged about the ‘rapprochement’ between the U.S. and the International Criminal Court here. Perhaps a feminist perspective would shed light on matters of international law; Lawrence Solum’s blog has flagged up this new piece by Dianne Otto. Or perhaps that would be to no avail, since law’s incapacity to resolve ground-level conflict goes deeper, striking at the heart of the notion of courts themselves (to this end Barry Friedman at Balkinization suggests that the slow rate of judicial appointments by the Obama administration is rooted in a misguided distrust of the courts as vehicles for social change). Maybe all of this discussion misses the point and courts exist to provide a space  apart entirely from political passions, as Tommy Crocker suggests in excellent post at Opinio Juris on Khalid  Sheikh Mohammed and the relationship between moral desert and constitutional protection (more detail on Guantánamo 2.0 here and here). There’s no point in looking to a court then: they’d never let us punish the French as we might like.

Perhaps we need to place our faith in a higher order. The match attracted serious theological and philosophical debate about whether Henry’s handball truly was ‘the hand of God‘. Surely (bear with me…easy now) the more pressing question is, ought church and sport to be entirely separate? There is much food for thought in the SSRC’s Immanent Frame podcast of a star-studded event at Cooper Union Hall which set out to ‘rethink secularism‘, posted in a week in which several important law and religion stories made their way into the headlines.

As French politician Francois Bayrou ruefully said, in response to Irish calls for a replay:’In an ideal world, the match would be replayed, but the world is not yet ideal‘. Indeed not.Not at all. Only one answer then: revolution. Perhaps we’ll manage a bigger crowd than this on Tuesday.

Normal service will now resume here at HRinI.

Blawg Review has information about next week’s host, and instructions on how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues.

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Written by Máiréad Enright

Máiréad Enright lectures at Kent Law School. She is also a PhD candidate in the Centre for Criminal Justice and Human Rights, University College Cork. Her research interests are in gender and the law, law and religion, citizenship and the political dimensions of private law. You can contact her at M.Enright[at]kent.ac.uk or (+44) 1227 827996.