ICCL 'regrets' gangland legislation signed into law


THE IRISH Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) director Mark Kelly said the group “respectfully” noted the President’s decision to sign the legislation on gang crime into law.

Mr Kelly, who has been one of the most persistent critics of the legislation, said: “The President has chosen to avoid the ‘nuclear option’ of referral to the Supreme Court; however, this Act 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.”

He said the ICCL “regrets that our Statute book now includes yet another deeply-flawed criminal justice law, which does nothing to improve life for the victims of gangland crime.”

Atheist Ireland has called on Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern to delay signing the order that would make the blasphemy sections of the Defamation Act operable, until a referendum is held on the matter. Mr Ahern has the power to sign different provisions of the Act into law at different times. President McAleese signed the Defamation Bill into law yesterday, having decided not to send it to the Supreme Court to test its constitutionality.

Atheist Ireland chairman Michael Nugent said it would now campaign for the repeal of “this anachronistic and dangerous blasphemy law” as part of its wider campaign for an ethical and secular Ireland. He said Mr Ahern had already said that he did not want blasphemy to be illegal and had only included the blasphemy sections in the proposed legislation because he was constitutionally obliged to do so.

“The Minister has now satisfied the obligation that he stated himself to be under, and he has also succeeded in his more important stated aim of passing the Defamation Act. He should now delay making operable the sections of the Act that he says he does not want to be illegal.” The law makes the publication or utterance of blasphemous matter a crime punishable by a €25,000 fine.

Mr Nugent said it was inconsistent with the guarantees in our Constitution of freedom of equality, freedom of conscience and religion and freedom from religious discrimination.