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Constitutional Law

Constitutional law deals with the basic rights and rules set out in the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland. The Constitution is also frequently referred to by its Gaelic title Bunreacht na hEireann. Laws passed by the government of the day, or actions of state agencies or officials, may be found to be unconstitutional. Only the Superior Courts of the state- The High Court and The Supreme Court- may make a decision on the constitutionality of any disputed matter. The lower courts- The Circuit Courts and the District Courts- are then obliged to follow the interpretations of the Constitution provided by the Superior Courts. Bunreacht na hEireann is not the the supreme legal document in the Republic of Ireland. If there is a conflict between any provision of the Constitution and a provision of European Union Law, EU law will prevail.

“Dr. Livingstone, I infer?


Henry Stanley got things wrong when he met Dr. Livingstone. On meeting him, he records, he said; “Dr. Livingstone, I presume? The Oxford Dictionary indicates that “presume”, as used by Stanley, conveys he is supposing that something is the case on the basis of probability. On his own account, he was being absurdly careful. As Stanley well knew, white men in that location at that time were unknown. So, of course, the man he was meeting was probably Livingstone. However, […]


The National Risk Assessment for 2014

Suburbs in Texas

The Taoiseach has published the Draft National Risk Assessment for 2014. The good news is that, by implication, there will be another in 2015 and that it is open for public comments until the 30th June. The bad news is that, in briefly harking back to the past, it fails to correctly describe what really happened. Then there’s the tone; the authors never question the possibility that they are not competent to write the Assessment. Presumably, they followed the nostrum […]


Carry on…

Warrant Card

In Damache v DPP, Ireland & the Attorney General, IESC [2101], (“Damache”) the Supreme court decided that Section 29(1) of the Offences against the State Act, 1939 (as inserted by s. 5 of the Criminal Law Act, 1976) was unconstitutional. The Section permitted a person, not independent of an investigation, to issue a search warrant for the purposes of the investigation. The court found that a police officer engaged in an investigation is not an independent person for these purposes and […]


Medical Negligence and “Doctor X”

In January 2008 we reported the publication of a book by an anonymous Irish doctor, detailing the failings of the Irish hospital system. See a report HERE. The doctor was running a website and was featured speaking on national radio. The website is now not to be found and the book is not readily available. Medical errors happen everywhere; they are not unique to Ireland. In the USA and the UK, the responsible authorities collect statistics to find out why […]


Judging judges

There are two big ideas current in modern law. One is expressed in the law of the EU; it is the freedom to do business. The other is the law generated in response to the Second World War; it is the law of human rights. There has been an effort to bring them together (and an effort to keep them apart). The effort to bring them together is in the Treaty of European Union and the Charter of Fundamental Rights […]


The Actio Popularis, Aarhus Convention and class actions in Ireland


Ireland currently has a limited form of class action. It is the “actio popularis”. It is not like the US form of class action; it is not of direct benefit to individual members of the public. They get the benefit when they are in the class that benefits from the judgment. They do not simply lodge their claim for compensation, say. The Irish courts have accepted “actio popularis” claims in only one such proceedings; Digital Rights Ireland Ltd. v The […]


Truths, damned truths and statistics

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” One of the functions of a solicitor is to make the significant visible. On occasions this is easy; on others it is hard. It is easier if there is universal, or near-universal, acceptance of some aspect of reality. Much of reality is banal and the banal lacks significance, although it is true. “Truth”, therefore must be selected […]


Abolishing the Seanad

Seanad Election

There are many things wrong with Irish political and judicial institutions. We at McGarr Solicitors do not think that those serious defects should be ignored or that the electorate should be distracted from them by the campaign to abolish the Seanad. Our administration structures are in the form they now take because the Irish Constitution says so. For a number of reasons, those structures are not properly functioning. What is wrong with Irish political and judicial institutions? The Executive (Ministers […]


The Abolition of the Seanad referendum

We have declared our opposition to the abolition of the Seanad HERE.  Our opposition springs from the democratic deficit that is the Dail. If Dail Eireann functioned properly there would be no need to worry about the removal of the second house. Dail Eireann does not function properly and there is reason to worry. The Government intends to have a short campaign.  A short campaign will hinder effective opposition to the Seanad’s abolition. Campaigns are opportunities to educate the electorate […]


The Medical Council’s Guidance on Abortion

The Medical Council is the professional governing body for doctors in Ireland. It describes its role as being “responsible for protecting the public by promoting and better ensuring high standards of professional conduct and professional education, training and competence among doctors. Doctors must always be guided by their primary responsibility to act in the best interests of their patients.” To aid Doctors in meeting those responsibilities in difficult situations, the Medical Council has produced The Guide to Professional Conduct and […]