Emergency legislation could follow suspended sentences ruling within days

Acting Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Acting Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald

Acting Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said emergency legislation could be introduced “within days” of a High Court ruling that said the law governing the activation of suspended sentences is unconstitutional.

Mr Justice Michael Moriarty yesterday declared that section 99 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 is unconstitutional.

His decision was based on the fact it allows for significantly different treatment of people before the law in relation to their rights of appeal.

Barrister Paul Anthony McDermott SC told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland following the ruling: “The draft of Section 99 has amended it twice but even after three attempts to work out how to put this in writing they still haven’t managed to get it right.”

Its implications are being examined by the Department of Justice and Attorney General Máire Whelan.

Ms Fitzgerald said: “The consequences and implications of Justice Moriarty’s judgment have been under urgent examination in consultation with the Attorney General.

“As the issues in question are likely to lead to court challenges it would not be appropriate to make detailed comment on the judgement.

“However, there are no grounds for believing that persons generally who had not raised this issue in the course of proceedings which have been concluded will now be able to benefit from the finding of the High Court.

“The Government will take all necessary action open to it to address the issues arising from Judge Moriarty’s judgement.

“While legislation cannot retrospectively affect criminal cases before the courts, if, in the light of the consultations with the Attorney General, it is concluded that amending legislation is necessary, this can be introduced in the Dáil very quickly – if necessary within days.”

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