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Laughable law

•The Law Term commences on October 3 next -- over two months since the last one ended. Recently, invitations have gone out to the legal profession inviting them to the Votive Mass of the Holy Spirit, to be held at St Michan's Church, Halston Street, Dublin 7.

This Mass is attended by representatives of the leaders of Irish society, the judiciary, barristers and solicitors, members of the legal profession from overseas, senior members of both An Garda Siochana and the Defence Forces, together with other invited guests.

It seems strange that in a republic the law term would start with a religious service. It is particularly strange that the religious service is not an ecumenical one, but rather a Catholic service, and a high-church service at that.

What is of particular concern is that senior members of the judiciary officiate at this religious ceremony, playing the role of acolytes or assistants to the bishops and priests.

While each individual is free to practise his or her own religion in private, a judge has taken an oath and must conduct him, or herself, in a manner consistent with that oath. Performing the role of acolyte in any religious ceremony is demeaning of the position of judge under the Constitution and utterly disrespectful of the Irish people.

Shortly, the people will be asked to vote in a referendum on judges' pay. Irish law does not provide any mechanism, or forum, in which judicial behaviour can be questioned or challenged.

The establishment of a body to oversee judicial behaviour, while somewhat more problematic, is at least as important as the power to reduce judges' pay in line with the general civil service.

The Government, to be seen to be strong, has chosen the easy option.

John Rogers
Dublin 7

•The Dail took less than 90 minutes to agree to erode judicial independence, an article of faith of this State for 90 years.

Does this bother anyone?

Estelle Feldman
School of Law, Trinity College

Irish Independent