So Minister for Justice Michael McDowell proposes to review the rights of the accused in criminal trials. Specifically he’s questioning the right to silence and the withholding from the jury of the criminal record of the accused.
How ironic that this comes at a time when the Government seems to have granted similar rights to itself, as Bertie Ahern and his supporters demanded the right to silence and the past record of Fianna Fail in this area was not deemed to be admissible. Both avenues of escape will, in future, be denied to the accused if Minister McDowell has his way.
This reaction to recent events suggests that criminal court standards of proof are now required in matters of public probity. If it cannot be demonstrated that favours have been done in return, it is now acceptable for politicians to fill their pockets with cash from personal benefactors. Indeed, any suggestion of impropriety is met with charges of an unacceptable intrusion into the personal life of the recipient.
Caesar’s wife must be rotating in her grave, or else damning her husband for his lack of imagination and all those opportunities foregone.
Footnote: Published as a letter in the Irish Examiner. Section in italics published as a letter in the Irish Independent.
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