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Human Rights

The Data Sharing Agreement re the Public Services Card

It’s a requirement that public bodies sharing personal data, and relying on the provisions of the Social Welfare Consolidation Act 2005 to do so, have an agreement in place first. I wrote in 2014 about the (eventually)  fatal consequences for Irish Water’s attempts to rely on the 2005 Act in the absence of that Ministerial agreement. (It was illegal, and the hundreds of thousands of PPSN records Irish Water collected were subsequently scrapped.) So, having read through a good deal of documentation […]

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New Emergency UK Data Retention Law- What’s actually happening?

Panic Button by https://secure.flickr.com/photos/johnjoh/

In case you missed it with all the World Cup and such, last night UK Labour backbencher Tom Watson put out an urgent call for attention. The UK Gov were trying to bundle a replacement mass surveillance law through Parliament with nobody looking. Unlike here, the UK never brought in a standalone law for Data Retention, just a Ministerial Order directly based on the annulled Directive. As a result the UK were running on empty, legally speaking, ever since the […]

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The National Risk Assessment for 2014

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 […]

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Is it yourself, then?

It is high time to re-evaluate people. Take the Garda whistleblowers, former Garda Wilson and Sergeant Maurice McCabe. Few commentators have remarked upon an obvious fact; they have been subjected to extreme stress. People like that are entitled to our understanding of their difficulties. To claim there are only two of them, as then Garda Commissioner Callinan did, is laughable; it is astonishing that there are so many of them. Human beings are fragile, but there is a mistaken idea […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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The Law of Perfidy

Nuremberg accused

Lawyers know that it is improper to use any means to win in the struggle that is litigation. Lay people may also understand that, at least intuitively. Given that even war is to be conducted within limits we should be glad that this is so. The laws of war are being continuously developed through treaties and, hopefully, through development of the customary laws of war. Customary laws are binding on all nations and states, regardless of express agreement by treaty, […]

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Mad, bad and dangerous to know

Klaus Barbie

On 21st June 1943, the Gestapo raided the house of Dr. Frédéric Dugoujon in Lyon. There they found nine leaders of the French Resistance, including Dr. Dugoujon, Jean Moulin, Raymond Aubrac and René Hardy. Only René Hardy escaped, there and then. Jean Moulin, returned from Britain, had been charged by General De Gaulle with uniting the various factions within the Resistance. He was tortured extensively by Klaus Barbie in Lyon and died in a railway station in Metz on his way to Germany. […]

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My favourite case

US Supreme Court Justice Taney

Recently, the Irish Times featured an opportunity for some lawyers to name their “favourite case”. Some choices were reasonable, some were laughable. A major problem in making a decision like this is the fact that court decisions seldom give the lead to society. The lead is established long before the issue reaches the courts. This means that any particular judgment is going to reflect what has already been decided elsewhere and previously. This is not to say that court decisions […]

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