Cuts to justice services come at a heavy cost
Published 14/10/2015 | 02:30
On one view, nothing may have prevented the murder of Garda Tony Golden and the serious injury caused to a young woman. The married father of three was shot dead on Sunday by Adrian Crevan Mackin, a dissident republican, as he escorted a vulnerable young woman to her home.
However, it is hard to divorce Gda Golden's murder from the chronic underfunding of our criminal justice system, including An Garda Síochána, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the judiciary.
Adrian Crevan Mackin was brought before the non-jury Special Criminal Court last January on charges of IRA membership but was released on bail some days later.
Critically, he was released on bail with the consent of the State, which did not object to his release pending trial.
Despite the political noise about bail reform, it is common for the State to consent to bail for suspects in the Special Criminal Court and in our criminal system generally, owing to intolerable delays that arise from the need to amass evidence and secure trial dates. Since 1997, books of evidence that outline the State's case against an accused, are meant to be served within 42 days.
In practice, this can often take up to nine months or more.
In addition, it can take more than two years to secure trial dates in the Special and Central Criminal Courts once books of evidence are served. This leads to an understandable caution by the judiciary and the State against the imposition of lengthy periods in custody, when an accused is entitled to a presumption of innocence.
The evisceration of funds for vital public services - justice and health among them - has real consequences.
We are also paying a heavy price for turning a blind eye to widespread criminality in border areas such as Louth, where frontline gardaí require significant strategic and financial supports to uphold the security of the State and its citizens.
Down but not out: In praise of Paul O'Connell
It was the Great Jack Dempsey who said that "Champions get up when they can't", so anyone who writes off Paul O'Connell's participation in world-class sport should expect to be caught by a sucker-punch from fate. O'Connell, who is known to have rasped out a few bars of the Contender, a song written in honour of another great Irish fighter Jack Doyle "has never been counted out to 10 in pure defeat". Yet the sight of him on his back at the Millennium Stadium, after lifting Irish rugby hearts to the heavens, would have brought a tear to a glass eye.
His were the stirring words that the team credited with taking their super-human performance to a level of passionate ferocity not often seen in professional sport.
He demanded no less than everything from himself and as a consequence those around him gave their all. His extraordinary strength and agility defied both gravity and logic. He had the look and demeanour of a giant who had been sleeping at the bottom of a bog for centuries. O'Connell matched manic intensity with mammoth sporting intelligence and his leadership inspired and terrified at once, regardless of whether you were with him or against him. Whether it was for Young Munster, Munster, Ireland, or the Lions O'Connell has been a colossus in the world of rugby. Few players get to touch the mantle of greatness, fewer again get to wear it. Paul O'Connell made it his own.