Thursday 22 February 2018

Emer O'Kelly: Confusion on 'query' that led to judges' row

We need to believe in the judicial system far more than we need to believe in politics, writes Emer O'Kelly

Conversation: Judge Desmond Hogan regrets his approach to Judge Abbott.
Conversation: Judge Desmond Hogan regrets his approach to Judge Abbott.
Question: About Judge Henry Abbott's claims

Emer O'Kelly

If we think about it, most of us accept that probably a lot of heated argument, a certain amount of bitching, and quite a deal of gossip goes on in the robing room and corridors of the Four Courts. Lawyers, like the rest of us, are human. But there's something unsettling and unseemly about what amounts to a public falling-out between two judges, particularly two of different "rankings".

It becomes even more unsettling when we follow the course of claim and counter-claim: there doesn't seem to be a grey area. Both state facts. Those facts don't appear to sit easily together. And that makes us justifiably nervous. Or it should.

We need to believe in the judicial system, far more than we need to believe in the political system. The latter is composed of people who believe, rightly or wrongly, that they are qualified to make laws for the rest of us to follow. That implies at least an arrogant assumption of their own worth, even if it is an arrogance in which we collude by electing them, and even if they assume it falsely, as has been the case on far too many occasions.

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