Dear IrishLaw members,
Extracts from this week's Irish Emigrant (Issue 433, 22 May 1995) are
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THE IRISH EMIGRANT
Editor: Liam Ferrie May 22, 1995 Issue No.433
| Copyright 1995 The Irish Emigrant Ltd |
| This newsletter is currently delivered free of charge to |
| subscribers using non-commercial email accounts at universities. |
DIVORCE - IRISH STYLE
The subject of divorce continues to be discussed but perhaps with not
quite the intensity which might have been expected in view of recent
pronouncements from leading politicians. Dick Spring entered the
debate on Monday by saying that he favoured a gap of "up to five years"
between separation and divorce as, he argued, we must avoid a "quickie
divorce" mentality. Progressive Democrat leader Mary Harney continues
to oppose the use of the Constitution as the vehicle for defining the
conditions under which divorce can be granted. She also believes that
five years is too long a wait for those wishing to remarry.
The Irish Times reports a softening of the opposition within the Fine
Gael party to the Constitution being used to delineate terms for
divorce. This change of heart seems to have been triggered by the
findings of what was a confidential Government-sponsored opinion poll,
details of which appeared in last week's Sunday Tribune. It showed
that only one voter in five was prepared to trust our politicians to
legislate the terms for divorce. The same poll indicated that 57% of
the electorate favoured the removal of the ban on divorce while 34%
opposed any change. It also showed that 70% expected that divorce
would only be granted where there was very strong evidence of the
irretrievable breakdown of a marriage. The belief within the
Government is that a referendum will not produce the desired result if
the electorate is simply asked to remove the ban on divorce. This may
change following the findings of an opinion poll in yesterday's Sunday
Independent. It showed that 45% were against writing the conditions
for divorce into the Constitution. The poll also indicated that 61%
favoured the introduction of divorce, while 30% were opposed.
At its annual General Synod the Church of Ireland voted to permit
divorcees to remarry in church. This was accepted without the
inclusion of a requirement that they also go through a penitential
ABORTION INFO - THE REACTION
Following the passing into law of the Abortion Information Bill there
was reaction from a variety of sources:
- The Irish College of General Practitioners has compiled an abortion
information pack for use by its members in the course of their
duties. The pack is intended to help doctors comply with the new
legislation. Its most controversial aspect is the inclusion of
details, including prices, of British abortion clinics. Doctors who
are opposed to abortion are not, of course, obliged to provide any
information to patients, nor are they expected to provide the name of
a doctor who has different views.
- Justice Rory O'Hanlon, who recently retired from the High Court, was
back in the news when he addressed a seminar on "Catholics in Public
Life" at UCD. He blamed what he saw as the ills of today's society
on politicians, civil servants and judges who say "let's pretend that
God does not exist" in performing their duties. The Labour Party was
deemed the biggest culprit but the politicians of Fianna Fail and
Fine Gael were also criticised. It was their lust for power which
allowed them to ignore the wishes of their supporters and concede the
demands of Labour's liberal agenda. The judiciary was also targeted,
particularly the Supreme Court and its attitude to the Constitution.
Justice O'Hanlon disapproved of the practice of reinterpreting the
Constitution in the light of what the judges considered to be
"prevailing ideas and concepts".
- Some of the criticism of the Supreme Court ruling voiced by the
Bishop of Ferns, Dr Brendan Comiskey, was similar to the comments
from Justice O'Hanlon. He argued that it was elected politicians,
and not judges, who were expected to determine "prevailing ideas and
- The Irish Family Planning Association says that it will defy the new
Abortion Information Bill and will make appointments for clients at
abortion clinics in Britain.
FREED AFTER FIFTEEN YEARS
Peter Pringle, who was jailed in 1980 for the murder of a garda
officer, has had his conviction quashed by the Court of Criminal
Appeal. Following a bank raid at Ballaghaderreen in July, 1980, Garda
Henry Byrne and Garda John Morley were shot dead. Three men, including
Pringle, were subsequently convicted of the murder of Garda Byrne and
sentenced to death. This was later commuted to 40 years imprisonment
without remission, in all three cases. For years Pringle maintained
his innocence. In quashing the conviction the judges dismissed two of
the three arguments put forward by Pringle's legal team. The one which
was allowed concerned a tissue which Pringle used when he had a nose
bleed in Galway garda station. In a 1993 statement, Det. Sgt Thomas
Connolly said that he handed the tissue to Det. Sgt Pat Ennis. The
latter denied that he had been given the tissue. At the original trial
Det. Sgt Connolly told the court that Pringle had said to him, "I know
that you know that I was involved, but on the advice of my solicitor I
am saying nothing". The Appeal Court now says that, had the
disagreement about the tissue been known by defence counsel at the
original trial, it would have been used to question Det. Sgt Connolly's
reliability as a witness.
A day after the court decision Pringle was released on bail of IR60k
although this was objected to by gardai. The retrial is expected to
take place in late June or early July.
> > > > > > > > > BITS AND PIECES < < < < < < < < <
- The Irish Times carried an article on Wednesday which claimed that
illegal dog fights are a relatively common occurrence in Dublin,
Cork, Limerick and Carlow. The fights take place in warehouses or
disused factories and are generally organised by people associated
with serious crime and drug dealing. Spectators are said to come
from the Continent and Britain.
- Stephen O'Doherty (28), of Kilbarrack, Dublin, was arrested in
connection with the firing of two shots into the house of a garda
inspector in Dublin last weekend. He was granted bail after being
charged with possessing a firearm with intent to endanger life.
- Jane Marie Cook (30), a Dublin mother of seven, claims that she was
sexually abused by a Catholic priest for a ten-year period from the
age of ten, and is now seeking compensation from the Church. Jim
Cantwell of the Catholic Press Office said that the Church did not
accept responsibility for such behaviour by priests and that
compensation should be sought from the perpetrator of the act. The
priest in question was laicised some years ago and is now thought to
be driving a Dublin taxi.
> > > > > > > > > NORTHERN NEWS < < < < < < < < <
- The British Government is to retain its emergency powers in the North
for another year despite the ceasefire. These allow for the
continuation of non-jury trials, special powers of arrest and the
banning of certain organisations.
- The Presbyterian Moderator, Rev. David McGaughey, released his
church's four-page response to the Framework Document. Dr McGaughey
did not appear to find anything of merit in the document. He
considered it "too green" and said that it gave too much interest in
the North to Dublin. Concern was expressed at the lack of movement
on Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution and at the "neutral"
stance being taken by Britain. The British Government's assurances
on the future of the North were, he said, not believed by the
majority of the people in Northern Ireland.
> > > > > > > > > THE COURTS < < < < < < < < <
- Elio Malocco, the former Irish Press solicitor, was jailed for five
years following his recent conviction for fraud. Back in March he
was found guilty on six counts of fraud involving almost IR70k. He
originally faced more than 60 charges but the court heard just eleven
so that the case did not become too complex for the jury. Some of
the funds which he obtained were were paid to him by the Irish Press
for the settlement of libel cases.
- Vincent Connell suffered a suspected heart attack in the Supreme
Court where he was appealing the Central Criminal Court's decision
to refuse bail. The former disc jockey recently had his conviction
for the 1992 murder of Patricia Furlong quashed by the Court of
Criminal Appeal and now faces charges of attempted murder, arson and
- Antrim Crown Court sentenced Brian Doherty (21), of Strabane, to life
imprisonment for the manslaughter of Kieran Hegarty (11) in January
of last year. He was also sentenced to ten years for kidnapping.
His victim, who lived a few streets away, was abducted as he walked
home in the late evening. Before he was killed Kieran was beaten and
tortured in quite horrific fashion. It emerged in court that, four
days before the killing, Doherty was a patient at the psychiatric
hospital in Omagh where he was assessed as "a danger to society".
Nevertheless he was allowed to sign himself out.
- Three Northern politicians settled damages claims against the media
before the matter reached the courts. Lord Fitt, the former MP for
west Belfast, received "substantial damages" from Scotsman
Publications Ltd over an article which appeared in the newspaper
Scotland on Sunday in May of 1993. Peter Robinson, of the DUP, won
his damages and an apology from Ulster Television over remarks made
by US Congressman Peter King in February last year. The third award
went to Dr Laurence Kennedy, the former Conservative party
politician, who sued Belfast Telegraph Newspapers Ltd. He took
exception to a letter which appeared in a local newspaper owned by
the Telegraph. Dr Kennedy has lived in Scotland since an attempt was
made on his life at his home in Holywood.
- Another action which was settled out of court concerned the
shoot-to-kill allegations against the RUC in the early 1980s. The
father of Michael Tighe (17), who was shot dead by the RUC in 1982,
was awarded undisclosed damages. A sister of the dead youth has
again asked that the family be allowed to hear the contents of a tape
which was recorded at the time of the shooting.
- The courts in Galway were used to determine that travellers were not
entitled to use public open spaces to graze horses. Eyebrows were
raised when it was revealed that the travellers were granted free
legal aid to fight the case.
- Two prominent figures appeared in Mountrath District Court on charges
of exceeding the speed limit. ISPCC chief executive Cian O
Tighearnaigh was fined and disqualified for six months for travelling
at 101mph in a 60mph area. We were not told just how fast the
musician and composer Micheal O Suilleabhain was going but it was in
excess of 90mph. His case was adjourned until November but in the
meantime he was ordered to pay IR500 to the Rape Crisis Centre in
- David Adams (36), a cousin of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, was
jailed for 25 years when he was convicted of conspiracy to murder and
other charges. A number of others also received long sentences when
convicted of the same and related charges.
- A Catholic priest pleaded guilty to a number of sexual offences
against young boys at Downpatrick Crown Court on Friday. Among the
charges were nine of indecent assault, two of gross indecency, and
one of attempted buggery. Fr Daniel Curran (44), gave an address in
Newcastle, Co.Down, but was serving in St Paul's parish in the Lower
Falls at the time of the offences. He was remanded in custody and
will be sentenced this week.
- The young Malaysian doctor accused of the manslaughter of a patient
at Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital was acquitted by a jury which
took just 45 minutes to reach its verdict. In February 1994 Samuel
Beers (36) died when penicillin was injected into a tube leading to
his brain rather than a tube connected to his wrist. The jury
accepted Dr Yin Yin Teoh's explanation that, because the two tubes
were identical, she had to disentangle them and follow them to their
source to establish which was which. She believes that she must have
got the two mixed up again as she reached for a syringe.
> > > > > POLITICS & POLITICIANS < < < < <
- The International Foreign Relations Committee of the US Congress
voted to increase the US contribution to the International Fund for
Ireland by $10 in 1996 and to revert to $19.6 the following year. A
condition of the funding is that it only goes to companies which
adhere to the MacBride Principles. This aspect was criticised by Bob
Cooper, chief executive of the North's fair Employment Commission, by
John Alderdice of the Alliance Party and by Minister for Social
Welfare, Proinsias De Rossa. They argue that existing employment
equality legislation is strong enough and that the MacBride
Principles are anti-employment. The US funding is not yet secure as
the Senate Foreign Relations Committee is considering proposals which
would put a stop to all foreign aid.
- The Fianna Fail party is considering a discussion document on the
problems created by drug abuse. Among the suggestions are that drug
addicts should face compulsory confinement in a detoxification centre
for six months and that it should be an offence to have traces of
drugs in the bloodstream, just as it is to possess drugs.
- On Wednesday Minister for Justice Nora Owen met relatives of the
victims of the Monaghan and Dublin bombings of 1974 and told them
that the latest investigation into the attacks uncovered no new
evidence which "would enable any person to be charged". This did not
satisfy the relatives and their concern was increased by Thursday
evening's Prime Time programme on RTE television. Collusion was
suggested between the British security forces and the loyalists
responsible for the attacks. The accusation was backed up by a
former senior British Army officer who claimed that, at the time,
loyalist paramilitaries were viewed by some of his colleagues as
"friendly forces". Other military witnesses say they remember being
surprised that the RUC did not mount any checkpoints in the wake of
the bombings. There was also an allegation that certain members of
the gardai were working for British intelligence and did not wish to
see those responsible for the bombings end up in court. 33 people
died in the 1974 bombings, the largest loss of life in any incident
over the period of the troubles.
> > > > > > > > > EU NEWS < < < < < < < < <
- The Government has reappointed Judge Donal Barrington (67) to a
second six-year term at the EU's Court of First Instance.
> > > > > > > > > TRAVEL AND TOURISM < < < < < < < < <
- The European Commission has ordered the authorities at the French
port of Roscoff to grant access to vessels owned by Irish Ferries.
This brings an end to a dispute which has been running for some
months. At present Brittany Ferries is the only company operating
between Brittany and Ireland. Irish Ferries' attempts to compete on
the route were frustrated by the unwillingness of the Roscoff port
authority, a shareholder in Brittany Ferries, to open up the port.
The new service will start on June 10, two weeks behind schedule.
Passengers who are due to travel in that period will be brought to
Cherbourg and will receive compensation.
> > > > > > > > > MUSIC < < < < < < < < <
- This year's Feile concert, which has been moved from Thurles to
Mondello Park, looks to be in some doubt. Local residents have been
campaigning so vehemently against having the event at the motor
racing track that Kildare county councillors are prepared to use the
courts to have the concert banned.
> > > > > > > > > BUSINESS NEWS < < < < < < < < <
- Minister for Finance Ruairi Quinn announced that he was withdrawing
section 153 of the Finance Act and replacing it with a new section,
171. That is not quite the end of the "whistle blowers' charter" but
the changes have received some level of approval, falling short of a
welcome, from the original critics. Instead of becoming informers
for the Revenue Commissioners, tax advisors must write to those
clients who are involved in tax evasion and give them six months in
which to put their house in order. If the evasion continues the
auditor is obliged to resign and send a copy of the resignation
letter to the Revenue Commissioners. This course of action is now
only required in the more serious cases of tax evasion and solicitors
acting as tax advisors are exempt from copying the Commissioners.
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