Thursday 21 September 2017

Time for us to develop a healthy lack of deference towards the judiciary

The Four Courts, Dublin: The judiciary is the only unelected branch of government in Ireland and, because it is more powerful than in other democracies, needs more scrutiny
The Four Courts, Dublin: The judiciary is the only unelected branch of government in Ireland and, because it is more powerful than in other democracies, needs more scrutiny
Dan O'Brien

Dan O'Brien

Deference is unhealthy. Too often it allows the powerful a free pass. The decline of deference in Ireland over recent decades has been a very positive development, ensuring greater scrutiny of more wielders of power and influence.

The abject, if not grovelling, apology issued by a civil servant to the judiciary earlier this week highlighted a significant source of power in the State that is still treated with deference.

Although it is not the place of bureaucrats to criticise judges to lawmakers (the Department of Justice official suggested to an Oireachtas committee that judges didn't take burglaries seriously) the principle that the judiciary should be scrutinised, and criticised when someone believes that is warranted, should be upheld.

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