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 Council, seems again to underline the prevailing trend in Irish judicial decisions under the Act. Continue reading Future Worries for ECHR litigation in Ireland? O’Donnell v South Dublin County Council
It 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 Executive Power and Fundamental Rights: Underexplored Constitutional Terrain?
Recent 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 Public Lawyers, Public Values: Debating Government Lawyering in Ireland
A recently issued own initiative report by the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee of the European Parliament serves to highlight the significant accountability deficits which mark the Troika conditionality process. Continue reading Bureaucratic Bob and Weave: Troika Austerity under the Spotlight
What do you call a system that is wrong seven times out of ten? This is a question in need of urgent response following the emergence of a breakdown of invalidity pension appeals last week. Continue reading Silent, Everyday Scandals: Appealing Departmental Decision-Making in Ireland
The 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 Winterstein v France: Fighting for Travellers’ Rights under the ECHR
This 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.
Minister 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 Justice in Many Rooms? The hypocrisy behind Ireland’s Court of Appeal Reform
Amongst the most challenging questions for human rights advocates in drafting litigation and advocacy strategies is assessing the potential of the United Nations human rights treaty bodies. Continue reading Engines of Change? Irish Rights Advocacy and the United Nations Human Rights System
We are all saddened to hear of the passing of Seamus Heaney this morning. As members of the human rights community in Ireland, we recall with particular fondness his Fourth Irish Human Rights Commission Annual Human Rights Lecture in 2009, available here. In this piece, entitled The Writer and Righter, Continue reading Seamus Heaney: Tributes to a Voice of Hope and Conscience