Crossing Legal Boundaries in Defence of the State
Edited by Aniceto Masferrer and Clive Walker
Chapter 11: Erasing the distinction between anti-terrorist and criminal justice measures in Ireland
From its establishment in 1922, the Irish state has resorted to exceptional executive and legislative measures to combat actual and perceived threats to its internal security and established political order. In recent years these measures have expanded and deepened in response to perceived threats from violent organised crime and international terrorism. Although they have always entailed gross departures from established human rights and due process norms in Irish criminal justice, little effort was made to ensure that they were deployed only against subversive, terrorist or violent organised crime targets. A combination of loose definition, extensive executive discretion, a compliant judiciary and relatively weak checks and balances has allowed these measures to extend beyond their proclaimed targets, thereby diluting the boundaries between them and the ordinary criminal process. This chapter will highlight the distinctive features of the anti- subversive/terrorist measures and explore how, and the extent to which, they have managed to cross the boundaries between them and regular criminal justice processes applicable to ‘organised’ and ‘ordinary’ crime. This will be followed by a brief outline of the relative failure to match these developments with boundary crossing safeguards against the risk of abuse. First, however, some brief comment will be provided on the political and legal contexts in which these measures were introduced and have since developed. The current Irish State was born out of the 1921 settlement of violent conflict with Britain.
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