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Gerry O'Carroll: Gardai got it wrong on Lillis witness Jean

It was with a sigh of relief that I read of a request by the National Newspapers of Ireland (NNI) for photographs of criminals who are dealt with in the new Criminal Courts of Justice complex.

It is even written in our Constitution that justice should be done in public, and yet this lavish new building on Parkgate Street seems designed to facilitate convicts who wish to keep their transgressions private.

I firmly believe that the public deserves to see the faces of the people convicted for heinous crimes.

During my time in An Garda Siochana, I always felt that rapists, killers and murderers who were allowed to put jumpers over their heads while scuttling into court deserved to be named, shamed and photographed.

People convicted of these crimes forfeit all rights to anonymity and privacy. That is why they should be forced to do the so-called perp-walk that has become the norm in other jurisdictions.

And yet criminal trials are now taking place in a building that serves to shield these felons from the public gaze.

Representatives of the NNI met gardai this week to discuss a number of issues, primarily the potential for obtaining photographs of criminals.

However, a separate issue discussed was that of the photographing of witnesses, amid media concerns that may be shielded from the press.

Controversy arose in the recent trial of wife killer Eamonn Lillis when his former mistress Jean Treacy gave evidence. Ms Treacy did not wish to be photographed and was afforded transport to and from the courts complex via an underground car park in a garda vehicle.

This, of course, led to heightened media interest and an undignified flurry to secure a photograph of her through whatever means possible.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy did rightly point out that giving evidence in a trial does not make a private citizen a public figure.

It was an unusual development in that it was in stark contrast to the experience of hundreds of witnesses who are asked to walk in and out of the main court entrance every day.

In its treatment of Ms Treacy, I believe gardai scored a spectacular own goal and I would seriously question the actions of the senior garda officer who sanctioned the action.

Surely all witnesses should be treated the same.

Of course, in gangland trials it may be necessary for witnesses to be afforded special protection, but this was not one of those cases.

However, when it comes to the publicity surrounding convicted criminals, the layout of the new Criminal Courts of Justice does raise questions as to the treatment that will be afforded law-breakers.

That is why the 18 newspapers represented by the NNI have made what I believe to be a very justified request to receive photographs of convicted criminals.

I would consider the publication of photographs of criminals to have a very practical advantage in that the public may be able to identify people who have evaded justice for other crimes.

As the eyes and ears of the public, the media should be facilitated when it comes to ensuring justice is seen to be done in public.

Above all, the media should be supplied with photographs of criminals, as it is part of the judicial code of crime and punishment that criminals are publicly named and shamed.

Our sporting heroes don't deserve this bitter attack

He is one of Ireland's most colourful figures, a man who is equally loved and loathed.

At times, his work is disturbing but it is always brutally frank and honest. It has attracted both ardent admirers and trenchant critics. I'm talking, of course, about the columnist Kevin Myers, a man who appears to revel in his bete noir role.

True, I've grown used to his hard-hitting style, but even I have been left dumbfounded by his latest masterpiece.

Mr Myers' attack on the Irish rugby team yesterday was unjustified, totally unwarranted and utterly nonsensical. He described the defeat to France on Saturday as a victory of the Irish subconscious. Ireland did not want to win, and Declan Kidney did not choose a team that could win. His selection of Ronan O'Gara said as much.

What breath-taking arrogance. I've no doubt that this pronouncement will be greeted with the derision it deserves. The statement is simply the ravings of a bitter old curmudgeon who professes to know more than most about the psyche of the Irish.

His criticism is unbelievable. Has he forgotten he is talking about a team that has had a run of 12 unbeaten games, a team that won the Grand Slam last year? To assert that the team would set out to deliberately lose by having the mindset of defeat is just beyond reason.

I believe this to be a gross insult to the Irish nation and an affront to fair- minded fans and sports people in every code.

Mr Myers has done a great disservice to those who have donned the green jersey and has forfeited the right to be taken seriously as a commentator for the nation.

And, might I add, for someone who claims the Irish psyche embraces defeatism, if he knew anything about our glorious and bloody history he would realise that this country has never accepted defeat.

You're no Beatle, John, but your head seems to be in the sky with diamonds

Dear me, is John Waters away with the fairies altogether?

That's the only conclusion I can draw from his latest musings, now that he seems to be comparing his songwriting abilities to the great John Lennon.

He's the king of angst, our very own John the Baptist, who cries out in the wilderness for the appeasement of our sins. But little did we know he's also a vessel for offerings of musical excellence.

John is doing his best to enter the novelty show that is the Eurovision for a second time. I would have thought that after the last time he'd be sticking to staid prose. Instead, he's claiming that he's enjoying the same kind of inspiration as John Lennon. Allow me to clarify. He reckons that writing music is a fascinating thing for a creative mind, explaining: "This is partly because, when you're doing it right, you're not actually creating, but acting as a receiver for something that's already written in the spheres. John Lennon talked about the arrival of a great song as being like the apple falling on Newton's head."

Poor John Waters.

Should we take this as a cry for help? Perhaps it's an anguished wail that, unlike his namesake, he hasn't been recognised as one of the most talented songwriters of his age? The extent of his talents might be questionable, but I don't see why he's subjecting himself once more to the gaudy ordeal that is the Eurovision. John, I'd really hate to see you getting hurt again.


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