Future Worries for ECHR litigation in Ireland? O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council

ECHR at 60

The European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 offers only a narrow window for the pleading of the Convention in the Irish courts. Indeed, Fiona Donson and I recently compared taking an ECHR action before the Irish courts to arriving on floor seven and a half in the movie Being John Malkovich. A re-reading of one of the main Supreme Court judgments of this term, O’Donnell v South Dublin County Councilseems again to underline the prevailing trend in Irish judicial decisions under the Act. Continue reading

Executive Power and Fundamental Rights: Underexplored Constitutional Terrain?

fourcourtsIt is somewhat surprising that after 78 years, one could claim that Bunreacht na hEireann has some underexplored corners, but recent judgments underline that executive power is an area in need of renewed examination. The extent and depth of executive power has troubled multiple common law jurisdictions in recent years, often as an ever expanding administrative state creates “soft law” or policy structures to govern entire areas. The most recent example of this was the High Court judgment in C.A. regarding the direct provision system and the RIA house rules. Continue reading

Public Lawyers, Public Values: Debating Government Lawyering in Ireland

Houses of OireachtasRecent debates regarding the availability of the Attorney General’s advice underline the need for Ireland to engage in a first principles discussion of the Government’s approach to lawyering and dispute resolution. The disastrous symphysiotomy redress scheme, the Garda taping scandal and our ongoing struggle to fix the basic content of the Constitution in our legislative debates show that we must open up space for a culture of positive legality within departments often driven by the forceful undertow of defensive organisational cultures. Continue reading

Winterstein v France: Fighting for Travellers’ Rights under the ECHR

ECtHRThe European Court of Human Rights recently found France in violation of Article 8 (the right to home, family and private life), by threatening to evict through court order a group of 95 Travellers from their long established caravan sites in the municipality of Herblay. This decision is very significant for those engaged in litigation or advocacy on Traveller/Roma housing in Europe. Continue reading

A Macroeconomics of Human Rights? Contesting Austerity Budgeting

EU CommissionThis years’ budget is perhaps the first which received full ex ante and post ante supervision from the European Commission. Lobbying for rights compliant budgeting now involves growing complexity, across multiple stages and fora.  What were previously direct acts of lobbying and public debate, now possess a different character, and human rights actors must seek an equal footing and pick the correct battles in the correct places.

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Justice in Many Rooms? The hypocrisy behind Ireland’s Court of Appeal Reform

Four CourtsMinister Alan Shatter today published a reasoned defence of the proposed Court of Appeal constitutional amendment, arguing that it represents “a positive step towards fashioning an efficient and effective courts system that ensures better access to justice.” The Minister’s account continually returns to the touchstone concepts of ‘access to justice’ and ‘consistency’ in the law. Yet this referendum is not Continue reading