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Life and Death in Ireland – A System of Soft Terror December 8, 2012

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics.

Interesting article in Counterpunch by James Davis on Savita Halappanavar and Ireland’s human rights record.


1. CL - December 8, 2012

‘The liberalisation of Ireland over the past couple of decades is in many respects a mirage, even if the state and the courts operate far to the right of the population on many questions.’-Davis.
Exactly. But it does raise the question of who controls the state and the courts.


2. Wendy Lyon - December 9, 2012

Labour didn’t actually support the amendment though, did they? I wasn’t around at the time but I always understood that in government they agreed to hold a referendum but then opposed it.

Also, the usual conflation of the ECJ/ECHR and misunderstanding of the latter’s position in Irish law.


WorldbyStorm - December 9, 2012

Presumably a consequence of distance – and hopefully will be corrected. More broadly it is good to see how internationally this is being looked at…


JD - December 9, 2012

Labour caved in supporting PLACs demand for the referendum, totally unprincipled. And Im not sure what you mean about the conflation of ECJ/ECHR, i thought that the distinction is clear in the piece?


Wendy Lyon - December 9, 2012

I assume JD=James Davis, the author of the piece. I suppose I should have said “confusion” rather than “conflation”, because you did make a distinction, you just got that distinction wrong. An ECHR decision is given as an example of “dictats from the EU”, when the ECHR is not an EU institution. Praveen Halappanavar is described as “suing the Irish state in the European Court of Justice”, when he is actually suing the state before the European Court of Human Rights.

It’s a common enough mistake though.


smiffy - December 9, 2012

True, it’s common, but it’s important to continue to point out the distinction.

On that point in the piece itself, I’d be sceptical of the claim that the Halappanavars are likely to get more justice in the ECHR than in the Irish system, particularly around the question of any inquiry. I can’t see how taking a case at this point could pass the admissability criteria, particularly around exhaustion of domestic remedies.

It’s a good article, although I don’t agree with the claim that the liberalisation of Irish society has largely been a mirage. There has been significant progress in a number of areas. Not enough, sure, but it’s important to recognise the victories over reactionary politics where they occur.


Wendy Lyon - December 9, 2012

I can’t see how taking a case at this point could pass the admissability criteria, particularly around exhaustion of domestic remedies.

People said the same about the ABC case, and that got through. You’re not required to exhaust domestic remedies when to do so would be futile because there’s no possibility of you succeeding. And I’m not really sure what grounds would exist for a challenge in domestic law. In the Stardust case it was argued that the denial of a public inquiry was, itself, an exhaustion of domestic remedies. The Court didn’t address that though and I’m not sure how the State dealt with it in their submissions.

Anyway, is it absolutely certain he isn’t going to file a token claim in the High Court first? I know his lawyer loudly proclaimed they were going to Strasbourg, but perhaps that was just because they know it’ll end up there eventually.


3. JD - December 9, 2012

Thanks for the clarification. I’m editing it down for another publication so I will correct that. On the question of whether there is likely to be more opportunity to get a frank and open inquiry in Dublin or Europe, my argument is that most of the progress that we have seen over the last 30 years has come from Europe rather than the Irish state, or from the Irish state playing catch up following Europe’s lead or direction. Again Im distinguishing here between public opinion and the position of the state.

What is most interesting to me is the role of the Supreme court in bailing the state out on many of these questions. the difference between the student/clinics info ruling and the X ruling is profound, yet it is the same court with almost the same personnel (open to correction on that).

We know that 3 or 4 justices on the US supreme court are close to or members of Opus Dei, yet we have no idea about the associations of the Irish justices. A totally closed book.


CL - December 9, 2012

“We know that 3 or 4 justices on the US supreme court are close to or members of Opus Dei”-Source?


4. JD - December 9, 2012

I can’t find a link to the original Chicago trib article from 04.
If you search you will find a lot, some of it credible. Scalias wife is a member and his kids go to OD schools. Thomas was brought into Catholicism by OD.
Also OD & knights big in the military according to Raw story

I guess the main point is that USSC is packed with conservative Catholics and there are books routinely published about the history and personalities of the court. The Irish court seems to get a free pass universally and it has a quite bizarre and inconsistent habit of making 180s when the states back is against the wall. X is a prime example, there are others.


5. CL - December 9, 2012

There are certainly four conservative Catholics on the U.S. Supreme Court. But the allegations and speculations in the above links are shaky grounds for asserting that any U.S Supreme Court justice is definitely a member of Opus Dei.


6. JD - December 9, 2012

Obviously OD is a secret organisation, so there can never be any confirmation outside of someone admitting to being a member. I claimed they are members or are close to OD, I don’t think that there can be much doubt about whether they are close to given that they send their kids to OD schools and Thomas was inducted by ODers. The point is that it is widely discussed that Justices are conservative and right wing Catholics. I don’t know that I see that written in relation to the Irish court.


CL - December 9, 2012

I don’t know what is the religious composition of the Irish Supreme Ct.
But Catholicism is a minority religion in the U.S. That there are now 6 Catholics on the Court-and no Protestant-inevitably draws commentary. Their Catholicism doesn’t necessarily make them right-wingers; Sotomayor is generally regarded as liberal, and Kennedy also some of the time.


7. JD - December 9, 2012

What is notable about it, and what gets attention, is that a few of them are linked to a secret religious cult that is far outside the mainstream of US society, and its reflected in some of their rulings. I would imagine that most of the nine of them are practicing which is unremarkable. Again, I raised it only as a comparison to show how under the radar the makeup and politics of the Irish court is. I’d like to have made the point more strongly but I didn’t include it in the essay because its impossible to verify any facts.

But i do think its a real issue with the Irish SC. Example, its been fairly well established that some judges are way in over their heads on property and investment debt in Ireland. Could members of the Supreme Court be in similar circumstances? Considering that bankrupts can’t serve on the bench and that Ireland will likely get some kind of bankruptcy reform, and that the SC will likely rule on related issues…You get the idea.


CL - December 10, 2012

‘its impossible to verify any facts.’-exactly.


8. JD - December 10, 2012

I’m slightly confused as to whether Im in the Hist or the Phil! Way to ignore the point which is not that there are 2 or 4 Catholic nutters on the US SC but that we know nothing about the people on Ireland’s, as a matter of broad political and intellectual consensus.


CL - December 10, 2012

Here’s some info on Ireland’s SC’s chief justice


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