Justice and a higher law


A chara, – Diarmaid Ferriter (Opinion, June 22nd) refers to “the frustrations, bigotry and repressive hypocrisies of the new Irish Free State.”

On the opposite page, Frank McNally quotes Dr James Deeny, whose “early medical career was blighted by the sectarianism of Northern Ireland.” Deeny wrote: “Coming to Dublin was wonderful. For the first time I discovered my country [and] felt a free citizen.”

There is always more than one story. It would be difficult to find a jurisdiction in the world without bigotry and repressive hypocrisies.

Prof Ferriter is critical of the Garda Síochána “obeying a higher law than their own.” We must indeed respect our laws, but always with critical and clear vision. The history of the world provides ample examples of unjust laws. In Ireland we had Penal Laws. Campaigns for civil rights seek remedies to unjust laws, and to laws which are applied unjustly.

A whistle-blower with a valid case calls attention to a higher law. Without such a perspective, we are reduced to the argument that we are simply obeying the law, obeying orders, regardless of injustices which may be permitted or commanded by the law. Not all law serves justice. As is carved in stone over the Bridewell Garda Station in Dublin: “Fiat justitia, ruat caelum” – let justice be done even if the sky falls.

This challenge enables us to confront injustices past and present. Fear that this may open up an “appalling vista” must not deter us from such a challenge. – Is mise,



Dublin 16.