Thursday, June 01, 2006

Where were the advisers.

First on Irish Election Much has been said about the recent supreme court decision here and I wouldn’t go back over it as others on Irish Election site have made excellent posts on the subject. Much of it has highlighted Michael McDowell’s management of the affair and indeed he does have a major question to answer. Like why there was no back up legislation. Also this is seriously going to damage the governments re-election chances. But one question I have to wonder is where were the civil service advisers.

This hole in the law seems to have been flagged since 1990 prior to this case. Since then the state has had 6 ministers for justice Micheal McDowell, John O’Donoghue, Nora Owen, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Pádraig Flynn and Ray Burke. Not one of them acted to address this legal loophole.

From the Irish Independent

The case was well-publicised last year and in October 2005 the Law Society Gazette contained an article by a trainee solicitor highlighting the potential legal fallout.

Asked how no one in Government knew about the case, Mr McDowell admitted it was “strange” that he, and the Government, only learned about it last week when part of the 1935 Act on statutory rape was struck down as unconstitutional.

Shown a copy of the Law Society Gazette last night, Mr McDowell said no one had brought it to his attention.

Now if this is true. It does beg the question why was it not brought to his attention. The legal world is quiet large and there is no way 1 person can keep track of it all. Minister needs his staff to keep him informed. But even if it is not true why did the department not strongly advise on the issue. How come if recommendations had been made to change the law in 1990 that not one of the 6 ministers change the law. The department itself has a lot of questions to answer.


Anonymous said...

John O’Donoghue, Nora Owen, Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, Pádraig Flynn and Ray Burke - how many of these are from the legal profession like McDowell is? How many of them were the former AG of this country? if ever there was a Justice Minister that can not plead ignorance its McDowell, his backgound puts him in the frame, he should have know more about it than I would ever expect the bunch before to have known.

Simon said...

Well John O Donoghue was a solictor.

The thing is the Minister is not suppose to have legal knowledge he/she is suppose to have legal advisors to advise them on these issues. They don't seem to have done their job. True McDowell is former AG. But he is but one man there should be loads of lawyers in that department picking up on these things and telling people what to do.

Niall said...

But McDowell personally pointed out that the legislation was dodgy over ten years ago. There wasn't a law student in the country who didn't know how ridiculous the law was. Hell I've heard the unconstitutionality of the 1935 Act discussed in many pub conversations, and I'm no lawyer.

The fact is that McD couldn't touch that law without being attacked by the Liveliners, so he hoped that he'd be gone before the law was challenged. He gambled and lost.