Our Legal Heritage

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Sir Edward Carson’s controversial role in Irish history and status as a unionist icon has obscured his reputation as one of Ireland’s great legal figures. Born in Dublin in 1854 and graduating from Trinity College with both a BA and an MA, he was called to the Irish Bar at King’s I

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Last week marked 80 years since the death of Mary Mallon, who, after over 26 years of imprisonment, died in an isolation hospital on North Brother Island in New York. Mary’s incarceration was not the consequence of being convicted of any crime, but was instead the reaction to her being identi

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The secret ballot was introduced in Britain and Ireland in July 1972 by the Ballot Act of 1872, with the aim of mitigating the effects of bribery, intimidation, and coercion in elections. Section 2 of the Act outlined the new procedure for voting, which provided for voters to "secretly" mark their v

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During the United Irishman Rebellion of 1798, one of the forms of torture used by the British on suspected Irish rebels – or Croppies – was pitchcapping. Victims were subjected to "caps" full of boiling tar, or "pitch", and gunpowder, forced on their heads and set alight. If the victims

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With the sudden passing of Erskine Childers in November 1974, Cearbhall Ó'Dálaigh was nominated as the sole presidential candidate by the three main political parties of the time, becoming the fifth President of Ireland in December 1974. During Ó'Dálaigh's presidency, Lia

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Under Article 40.6.1(i) of the Constitution of Ireland, the ‘publication or utterance of blasphemous, seditious, or indecent matter is an offence which shall be punishable in accordance with law’. Pursuant to this mandate, Section 31(1) of the Defamation Act 2009 states that ‘a per

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The Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA) was established in 1967, and one of its main goals was to achieve 'one man, one vote' in Northern Ireland. The plural voting system, which gave business owners and university degree holders an extra vote, had been abolished in the rest of the UK

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On 4 April 1603, the Treaty of Mellifont officially finalised the Tudor conquest of Ireland, however by 1606 it became clear to the British Crown that Brehon law, or ‘the common law of the Irishry’, was still being administered in Ireland. In particular, reliance on the customs of &lsquo

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In Murphy v Attorney General [1982] IR 241, a married couple challenged the constitutionality of ss. 192-198 of the Income Tax Act 1967 which deemed the income of a married woman, living with her husband, be her husband’s income for tax purposes and not her own. The case was supported by the

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Marital rape only became a crime under section 5 of the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990, which abolished ‘any rule of law by virtue of which a husband cannot be guilty of the rape of his wife’. Under the common law prior to the Criminal Law (Rape) (Amendment) Act 1990, a h

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Between the 9th and 10th of August 1971, the British Army initiated ‘Operation Demetrius’ in Northern Ireland – which involved the arrest and internment of hundreds of people suspected of being associated with the IRA. Of those arrested and interned during Operation Demetrius, four

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Irish revolutionary Roger Casement, the ‘father of 20th-century human rights investigations’, was knighted in 1911 for his investigations into human rights abuses in the Congo and Peru while he worked a British Consul.

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Criminal conversation gave a man a right of action for damages against anyone who had sexual relations with his wife, and the consent of the wife did not affect his entitlement to sue. It was not necessary that adultery resulted in separation, however if the couple was already separated the man was

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The practice of penal transportation as a form of criminal punishment used by the British began in the early 1600s and “did not formally cease until the penal settlement on the Andaman Islands was wound up in 1945” (Maxwell-Stewart, 2010). During the 330 years of penal transportation, Ir

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