Ahern welcomes Bills' enactment


Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern has today welcomed the enactment of the Criminal Justice and Defamation Bills.

Mr Ahern said the Criminal Justice Bill will provide vital legislative provisions for the gardaí in their ongoing fight against gangland activities.

President Mary McAleese this morning signed the Defamation Bill 2006 and the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009 into law.

Last night, the President met 19 of the 22 members of the Council of State for nearly three hours to discuss whether to refer two Bills to the Supreme Court. The meeting began shortly after 6pm and broke up shortly before 10pm.

Both Bills were passed by the houses of the Oireachtas earlier this month.

“Make no mistake: the fight against the activities of these gangs is going to be long and has to be waged relentlessly,” Mr Ahern said.

“But I am satisfied that the ability of the gardaí to tackle the gangs head-on has been greatly improved by these measures.

“I know that the gardaí are determined to use these provisions to the full. These measures represent very important changes in our criminal law in favour of ordinary law-abiding people.”

He also welcomed the enactment of the Defamation Bill, which he believes will serve the public interest.

"Modernisation of our Defamation law is now complete on the enactment of the Bill. I believe the legislation in what is a complex area strikes the right balance in the public interest.”

However, rights watchdog the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) said that, despite being signed into law, the Criminal Justice Bill 2009 remains riddled with legal pitfalls.

“Any attempt to invoke some of its more contentious provisions, such as secret detention hearings, or the use of uncorroborated Garda evidence to establish facts central to a prosecution, is bound to

provoke further legal challenges to its constitutionality," ICCL director Mark Kelly said.

“The ICCL regrets that the statute book now includes yet another deeply flawed criminal justice law, which does nothing to improve life for the victims of gangland crime."