Independent TD Mattie McGrath has called on the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald to conduct an immediate impact review of court procedures which have come into place since the establishment of the Court of Appeal and which he claims are restricting the constitutional rights of citizens. Deputy McGrath made his comments after he visited a Wicklow farmer in jail and who was only released from wrongful detention after an eight day campaign of continuous court applications:
“The fundamental rights of the citizen in relation to this specific issue are guaranteed in Article 40 of the Constitution.
That Article contains provisions governing habeas corpus through which an individual may not only challenge the legality of his detention, but may do so with the reasonable expectation that this challenge will be conducted swiftly.
What this case highlights however is that access to the courts in order to vindicate those rights has become a process mired in bureaucratic and labyrinthine nonsense.
Since the establishment of the new Court of Appeal, which was supposed to make delays in the Courts a thing of the past, I have witnessed a disturbing judicial tendency to effectively circumvent the constitutional rights of citizens in terms of challenging unlawful detention.
This young farmers release required no less than eight Court appearances by the New Land League, including the High Court, The New Court of Appeal and Supreme Court appearances.
In that sense it is a case which clearly demonstrates the increased likelihood by which miscarriages of justice will continue to occur by virtue of a completely uncalled for complexity in our judicial processes,” concluded Deputy McGrath.