Farm Ireland

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Legal profession protecting their own once more

So the referendum proposal on giving investigative powers to Oireachtas members was rejected by the voting public.

Commentators are blaming the lack of Government clarity on the proposals but, listening to people in our locality, it was the intervention of the Attorney Generals which placed the doubts in the minds of the public. And when people are unsure, their instinct is to vote for no change.

My earliest experience of the Irish legal system came when I attended a court in support of my mother, who was charged with breaking the old 30mph speed limit on the outskirts of Bunclody. She was travelling to a Mothers' Union meeting with three other mature ladies -- although all were less mature than my mother-in-law, who once managed to get a speeding fine at the age of 94.

In the court that day, I observed that, for the exact same misdemeanour, defendants who were represented by their solicitor received a lower fine than the defendants who represented themselves. This was a clear case of the judge supporting his own profession in his judgements.

God forgive me, but I suspect that the same motivation mobilised the Attorney Generals to issue their warning on the referendum.

As presidential candidate Gay Mitchell asked: "Where were the Attorney Generals when all of the banking and other scandals were revealed?"

Does the referendum defeat mean that crooked bankers and incompetent civil servants will remain unchallenged and untouched?

The referendum proposal may not have been perfect but it was a move in the right direction. I don't know where a frustrated public can look to now for leadership.

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