Former Supreme Court judge urges voters to say yes to new appeal court
Catherine McGuinness says Yes vote would help ensure cases of constitutional and public importance receive the necessary full consideration
Former judge Catherine McGuinness: ‘I feel very strongly we need to vote Yes.’ Photograph: David Sleator
A new court of civil appeal is very necessary for a fast and fully considered determination of important legal cases and to help weed out more trivial cases, a former Supreme Court judge has said.
Catherine McGuinness said it is “very important” people vote in favour of the new appeal court in the October 4th referendum.
“I feel very strongly we need to vote Yes,” the retired judge said. A Yes vote would help ensure cases of constitutional and public importance receive the necessary full consideration by a Supreme Court not trying to juggle an overwhelming caseload, she said.
The proposed court is intended to address serious delays of up to four years in having appeals decided by the Supreme Court.
“Now there are 38 High Courts and the Supreme Court has to deal with appeals from all of those.”
While the Supreme Court had tried over years to tackle the problem, including holding weekly meetings to strike out appeals not being progressed and adopting a priority appeal listing system, the volume of cases means considerable delays persist, she said.
The fact many appeals are brought by personal litigants and the Supreme Court has to deal with trivial cases in tandem with very serious matters such as child abduction or the recent assisted-suicide case adds to the difficulties, she added.
Ms McGuinness was speaking at an event to mark the publication of Trapped: Prison Without Walls by Ebun Akpoveta, a novel that focuses on gender inequality and domestic violence within the Nigerian community in Ireland.
Denise Charlton, the chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, said Irish immigration laws are unclear for those women trying to negotiate their immigration status in the context of domestic violence. “The review of domestic violence laws is an opportunity to change things,” she said.