The Irish people are mainly of Celtic origin, with the country's only significant sized minority having descended from the Anglo-Normans. English is the common language, but Irish (Gaelic) also is an official language and is taught in the schools.
Anglo-Irish writers, including Swift, Sheridan, Goldsmith, Burke, Wilde, Joyce, Yeats, Shaw, and Beckett, have made a major contribution to world literature over the past 300 years.
What little is known of pre-Christian Ireland comes from a few references in Roman writings, Irish poetry and myth, and archaeology. The earliest inhabitants--people of a mid-Stone Age culture--arrived about 6000 BC, when the climate had become hospitable following the retreat of the polar icecaps. About 4,000 years later, tribes from southern Europe arrived and established a high Neolithic culture, leaving behind gold ornaments and huge stone monuments. This culture apparently prospered, and the island became more densely populated. The Bronze Age people, who arrived during the next 1,000 years, produced elaborate gold and bronze ornaments and weapons.
The Iron Age arrived abruptly in the fourth century BC with the invasion of the Celts, a tall, energetic people who had spread across Europe and Great Britain in the preceding centuries. The Celts, or Gaels, and their more numerous predecessors divided into five kingdoms in which, despite constant strife, a rich culture flourished. This pagan society was dominated by druids--priests who served as educators, physicians, poets, diviners, and keepers of the laws and histories.
But the coming of Christianity from across the Irish Sea brought major changes and civilizing influences. Tradition maintains that in 432 AD, St. Patrick arrived on the island and, in the years that followed, worked to convert the Irish to Christianity. Probably a Celt himself, St. Patrick preserved the tribal and social patterns of the Irish, codifying their laws and changing only those that conflicted with Christian practices. He also introduced the Roman alphabet, which enabled Irish monks to preserve parts of the extensive Celtic oral literature.
The pagan druid tradition collapsed in the spread of the new faith, and Irish scholars excelled in the study of Latin learning and Christian theology in the monasteries that flourished. Missionaries from Ireland to England and the continent spread news of the flowering of learning, and scholars from other nations came to Irish monasteries. The excellence and isolation of these monasteries helped preserve Latin learning during the Dark Ages. The arts of manuscript illumination, metalworking, and sculpture flourished and produced such treasures as the Book of Kells, ornate jewelry, and the many carved stone crosses that dot the island.
This golden age of culture was interrupted by 200 years of intermittent warfare with waves of Viking raiders who plundered monasteries and towns. The Vikings established Dublin and other seacoast towns but were eventually defeated. Although the Irish were subsequently free from foreign invasion for 150 years, internecine clan warfare continued to drain their energies and resources.
In the 12th century, Pope Adrian IV granted overlordship of the island to Henry II of England, who began an epic struggle between the Irish and the English which not only burned intermittently for 800 years but which continues to affect Irish politics and bilateral relations to this day. The Reformation exacerbated the oppression of the Roman Catholic Irish, and, in the early 17th century, Scottish and English Protestants were sent as colonists to the north of Ireland and the Pale around Dublin.
From 1800 to 1921, Ireland was an integral part of the United Kingdom. Religious freedom was restored in 1829. But this victory for the Irish Catholic majority was overshadowed by severe economic depression and mass famine from 1846-48 when the potato crop failed. The famine spawned the first mass wave of Irish emigration to the United States. A decade later, in 1858, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB--also known as the Fenians) was founded as a secret society dedicated to armed rebellion against the British. An aboveground political counterpart, the Home Rule Movement, was created in 1874, advocating constitutional change for independence. Galvanized by the leadership of Charles Stewart Parnell, the party was able to force British governments after 1885 to introduce several home rule bills. The turn of the century witnessed a surge of interest in Irish nationalism, including the founding of Sinn Fein ("Ourselves Alone") as an open political movement.
Nationalism was and is a potent populist force in Irish politics. The outbreak of war in Europe in 1914 put home rule efforts on hold, and, in reaction, Padraic Pearse and James Connolly led the unsuccessful Easter Rebellion of 1916. The decision by the British-imposed court structure to execute the leaders of the rebellion, coupled with the British Government's threat of conscription, alienated public opinion and produced massive support for Sinn Fein in the 1918 general election. Under the leadership of Eamon de Valera, the elected Sinn Fein deputies constituted themselves as the first Dail. Tensions only increased: British attempts to smash Sinn Fein ignited the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921.
The end of the war brought the Anglo-Irish treaty of 1921, which established the Irish Free State of 26 counties within the British Commonwealth and recognized the partition of the island into Ireland and Northern Ireland, though supposedly as a temporary measure. The six predominantly Protestant counties of northeast Ulster--Northern Ireland--remained a part of the United Kingdom with limited self-government. A significant Irish minority repudiated the treaty settlement because of the continuance of subordinate ties to the British monarch and the partition of the island. This opposition led to further hostilities--a civil war (1922-23), which was won by the pro-treaty forces.
In 1932, Eamon de Valera, the political leader of the forces initially opposed to the treaty, became prime minister, and a new Irish constitution was enacted in 1937. The last British military bases were soon withdrawn, and the ports were returned to Irish control. Ireland was neutral in World War II. The government formally declared Ireland a republic in 1948; however, it does not normally use the term "Republic of Ireland," which tacitly acknowledges the partition but refers to the country simply as "Ireland."
Violence and terrorist acts by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and other paramilitary groups continued throughout Ireland for the remainder of the 20th century. In 1998, the Good Friday Agreement was ratified by a 945 majority of the Republic of Ireland and a 71% major of Northern Ireland. This agreement provided shared power between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland and gave the Republic of Ireland an increased influence in Northern Ireland affairs. In accordance with this agreement, the IRA began to disarm in 2001 and in 2002 publicly apologized for killing civilians.
Today, Ireland is a parliamentary democracy with a long tradition of orderly transfer of power. The Government consists of an executive branch headed by a prime minister, a legislative branch with a bicameral parliament, and a directly elected president. The Government respects the constitutional provision for an independent judiciary.
The country has a population of 3.84 million and an open, market-based economy that is highly dependent on international trade. Over the last 2 decades it has received funds from the European Union (EU), and this assistance has helped to address socioeconomic imbalances. Strong economic growth over the past few years lowered unemployment to 3.7 percent. Per capita gross national product was $25,667 (22,135 Irish pounds).
In 2001, trade between Ireland and the United States was worth around $25.7 billion, an increase over 1999. U.S. exports to Ireland were valued at $7.15 billion, an increase of about over 1999 and 18% of Ireland's total imports. The range of U.S. products includes electrical components, computers and peripherals, drugs and pharmaceuticals, electrical equipment, and livestock feed. Irish exports to the United States grew to $18.5 billion in 2001, representing about 20% of all Irish exports. Exports to the United States include alcoholic beverages, chemicals and related products, electronic data processing equipment, electrical machinery, textiles and clothing, and glassware.
In 2001, the recent trend of a U.S. trade deficit with Ireland continued. Overall, the value of U.S. imports from Ireland exceeded the value of U.S. exports to Ireland by $11.4 billion. Nonetheless, given the continued favorable outlook for the Irish economy, sales opportunities for U.S. producers in Ireland are expected to improve. Export-Import Bank financing and the presence of major U.S. banks in Ireland facilitate marketing by U.S. suppliers.
The United States currently contributes $25 million annually to the International Fund for Ireland, a program that supports cross-border initiatives and economic development.
U.S. investment has been particularly important to the growth and modernization of Irish industry over the past 25 years, providing new technology, export capabilities, and employment opportunities. The stock of U.S. investment in Ireland was valued at $33 billion in 2001. Currently, there are more than 590 U.S. subsidiaries, employing approximately 100,000 people and spanning activities from manufacturing of high-tech electronics, computer products, medical supplies, and pharmaceuticals to retailing, banking and finance, and other services.
Many U.S. businesses find Ireland an attractive location to manufacture for the EU market, since it is inside the EU customs area. Government policies are generally formulated to facilitate trade and inward direct investment. The availability of an educated, well-trained, English-speaking work force and relatively moderate wage costs have been important factors. Ireland offers good long-term growth prospects for U.S. companies under an innovative financial incentive program, including capital grants and favorable tax treatment, such as a low corporation income tax rate for manufacturing firms and certain financial services firms.
For trial purposes, the Irish Constitution distinguishes between minor offenses and others. However, no definition of minor offenses is provided therein. For all practical purposes, the common law distinction of felonies or indictable offenses and misdemeanors or nonindictable offenses is employed.
Misdemeanors are the less serious offenses and are often referred to as summary offenses. Misdemeanor offenses include traffic violations and are tried in the lower district court without a jury. Indictable offenses are eligible for trial by jury and include murder, rape, armed robbery and kidnapping. As in Northern Ireland, the Republic classifies certain offenses as scheduled offenses, such as terrorist offenses. Scheduled offenses are tried in the Special Criminal Court.
The age of criminal responsibility in Ireland is 7. More specifically, criminal responsibility is refutable between the ages 7 and 14. Full criminal responsibility is reached at the age of 14.
Ireland utilizes the same drug classification system as England and Wales. Drugs are listed as class A, class B and class C according to their relative harmfulness. Production, supply, possession, possession with intent to supply, and offenses related to the importation and exportation of controlled drugs are illegal. Generally, only the possession of small quantities of cannabis (for personal use) will be treated as a summary offense.
INCIDENCE OF CRIME
The following statistics were gathered from the 1992 Annual Garda Crime Report.
In 1992, there were 25 murders and 7 attempted murders recorded by police. (In 1992, there were 17 manslaughters. There were a total of 1,298 recorded offenses against the person with a detection rate of 77.4%. These offenses included murder, manslaughter, dangerous driving causing death, traffic fatalities and possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.)
In 1992, there were 127 rapes recorded by the police. (In 1992, there were 300 reported indecent assaults on females. Yet according to the Rape Crisis Centre 1993 Annual Report, there were 452 first time contacts with the RCC in relation to a recent rape (no definition given) in 1993. This would indicate a serious under-reporting/recording to by police.)
In 1992, there were 32,149 burglaries recorded by police. (In 1992, there were also 1,409 aggravated burglaries. There were a total of 41,736 recorded offenses against property with violence, including burglary, aggravated burglary, robbery, arson and serious malicious damage to property. There was a reported detection rate of 31.1%.
In 1992, 3,494 individuals were charged under the Misuse of Drugs Act, 3,228 of whom were charged with possession. The remaining 266 were charged with other offenses under the same Act, including 107 for importation.
The lowest rate of recorded crime was in rural areas. For example, Mayo had a recorded crime rate of 7.5 per 1,000 population, Clare had a rate of 7.9 per 1,000 and Roscommon/Galway East had a rate of 8.8 per 1,000. The highest recorded crime rate was in metropolitan areas. Cork East had a crime rate of 36.4 per 1,000 population and Dublin Metropolitan had a rate of 49 per 1,000.
More recently, the crime rate in Ireland reported to INTERPOL for 1999 is low compared to other industrialized countries. An analysis was done using INTERPOL data for Ireland. For purpose of comparison, data were drawn for the seven offenses used to compute the United States FBI's index of crime. Index offenses include murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft. The combined total of these offenses constitutes the Index used for trend calculation purposes. Ireland will be compared with Japan (country with a low crime rate) and USA (country with a high crime rate). According to the INTERPOL data, for murder, the rate in 1999 was 1.41 per 100,000 population for Ireland, 1.00 for Japan, and 4.55 for USA. For rape, the rate in 1999 was 6.01 for Ireland, compared with 1.47 for Japan and 32.05 for USA. For robbery, the rate in 1999 was 54.27 for Ireland, 3.34 for Japan, and 147.36 for USA. For aggravated assault, the rate in 1999 was 12.38 for Ireland, 15.97 for Japan, and 329.63 for USA. For burglary, the rate in 1999 was 479.75 for Ireland, 206.01 for Japan, and 755.29 for USA. The rate of larceny for 1999 was 836.11 for Ireland, 1267.95 for Japan, and 2502.66 for USA. The rate for motor vehicle theft in 1999 was 16.3 for Ireland, compared with 34.01 for Japan and 412.70 for USA. The rate for all index offenses combined was 1406.23 for Ireland, compared with 1529.75 for Japan and 4184.24 for USA. (Note: data were not reported to INTERPOL by the USA for 1999, but were derived from data reported to the United Nations for 1999)
TRENDS IN CRIME
Between 1995 and 1999, according to INTERPOL data, the rate of murder decreased from 1.65 to 1.41 per 100,000 population, a decrease of 14.5%. The rate for rape increased from 5.43 to 6.01, an increase of 10.7%. The rate of robbery decreased from 74.55 to 54.27, a decrease of 27.2%. The rate for aggravated assault decreased from 16.34 to 12.38, a decrease of 24.2%. The rate for burglary decreased from 880.49 to 479.75, a decrease of 45.5%. The rate of larceny decreased from 1426.89 to 836.11, a decrease of 41.4%. The rate of motor vehicle theft decreased from 44.6 to 16.3, a decrease of 63.5%. The rate of total index offenses decreased from 2449.95 to 1406.23, a decrease of 42.6%.
Ireland does not have an indigenous body of law. Foreign legal systems exerted a massive influence and destroyed what was, historically, a highly developed system of Breton law. With political domination came the common law of England.
Although the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 led to a new Constitution, the system of law it provided for was not completely new. This Constitution did not meet the approval of all political groups, and was eventually dismantled. In 1937, a new Constitution was passed by a referendum, becoming the basic legal document in Ireland. Over the following years, it has been amended a number of times by the people and interpreted by the courts on numerous occasions.
The meaning of Irish law is essentially derived from the written Constitution of 1937, statute law and judicial decisions. Aside from the Irish Constitution, government legislation is the most important source of Irish law. There are 5 main legislative influences in Irish Law: the statutes of the old Irish parliament prior to 1800, the statutes of the English parliament (1719-1782) the statutes of the United Kingdom parliament (1800-1922) the statutes enacted by the Irish Free State (1922) and the enactments established by the 1937 Constitution.
The Irish legal system is adversarial and based on English common law. Although there has been an increase in the use of arbitrators, mainly for minor offenses, it has not altered the structure of the legal system in any way.
The Republic of Ireland has a national police force called the Guarda Siochana. The numerous subdivisions of the national force include the Drug Squad, Crime and Security, the Technical Bureaus, Intelligence and Interpol. The force is centrally controlled from Phoenix Park, Dublin. The Commissioner, the highest ranking police officer, is appointed by the Department of Justice and remains accountable to that agency.
In 1994, there was an estimated annual expenditure of 394 million Irish pounds on the Garda.
Under the Commissioner in 1990, there were 10,911 male and 638 female police officers in the Irish police force. The highest position of a female within the force is a Superintendent. There is no information available on ethnic representation.
The Irish police force carry only batons on their persons. Plain-clothes police officers are armed with hand guns and, in special circumstances, machine guns.
To qualify as an officer of the Irish police force, a candidate is required to have graduated from the final state school examination and have a passing grade in five subjects (including Irish). The candidate must be between 18 and 26 years old. Male candidates must be at least 5 feet, 9 inches tall and female candidates must be at least 5 feet, 5 inches tall.
Garda training lasts for 2 years and consists of 5 separate but integrated phases. Phase One consists of 22 weeks at Garda College. Phase Two consists of 24 weeks at a selected Garda Station normally in the Dublin Metropolitan Area, where the student accompanies a tutor Guard. Phase Three involves 12 weeks at Garda College. Phase Four involves being a probationer for 32 weeks at a selected Garda Station. Phase Five is the final 6 weeks at Garda College followed by graduation.
The police have the power to stop or apprehend a suspect on the grounds of reasonable suspicion that they have committed an offense. It is estimated that about 90% of arrests are made without a warrant. The use of cautioning is generally confined to juvenile offenders, according to certain guidelines. These guidelines include the offender's admission to the offense and the consent of the victim. Cautioning is otherwise only used for very minor offenses, including certain traffic violations.
The police have the general power of search and seizure based on reasonable suspicion. The power of search and seizure is also permitted under the Misuse of Drugs Act and the Anti-Terrorist Act.
Before offering a confession, the accused must be read his or her rights.
Complaints against the police are dealt with by the Independent Complaints Board, which consists of two lay people and one Guard.
Today, the national police (Garda Siochana) are under effective civilian control and have primary responsibility for internal security. Since the police are an unarmed force, the army, which is under the effective civilian control of the Minister for Defense, acts in their support when necessary. The country's principal internal security concern has been the prevention of terrorist violence from Northern Ireland. All major paramilitary groups, on both sides of the border, have declared permanent cease-fires pursuant to the 1998 Good Friday Peace Agreement. Members of the police committed some human rights abuses. The law prohibits such practices; however, there were instances of police abuse of detainees and prisoners, mainly involving the use of excessive force. While the mistreatment of persons in police custody was not widespread, detainees filed a number of cases claiming damages for injuries sustained while in police custody.
As part of the Garda Siochana Human Rights Initiative for 1999-2000, the Government began recording the questioning of suspects in Garda stations, a practice designed to deter further abuse or mistreatment, which was welcomed by human rights groups such as Amnesty International.
The Constitution stipulates that no person shall be deprived of personal liberty without due process under the law; however, the use of special arrest and detention authority continued. A detainee has the right to petition the High Court, which is required to order the detainee's release unless it can be shown that the person is being detained in accordance with the law. The Criminal Justice Act provides for an initial period of detention of 6 hours, with an extension of another 6 hours pursuant to the direction of a police officer of the rank of superintendent or above, in cases in which there are grounds for believing that such detention is necessary for the proper investigation of an offense. A continuation of detention for 8 hours overnight is possible, to allow a detainee to sleep.
The Offenses Against the State Act allows police to arrest and detain for questioning anyone suspected of committing a "scheduled offense," i.e., one involving firearms, explosives, or membership in an unlawful organization. Although the stated purpose of the act is to "prevent actions and conduct calculated to undermine public order and the authority of the State," it is not restricted to subversive offenses. As a result, the police have broad arrest and detention powers in any case involving firearms. In cases covered by this act, the initial period of detention without charge is 24 hours at the direction of a police superintendent; detention may be extended another 24 hours by a judge. However, under the terms of the Decommissioning Law the authorities may not institute proceedings against individuals for any offense committed in the course of decommissioning illegally held arms in accordance with an approved arms decommissioning scheme.
The Offenses Against the State act also provides for the indefinite detention, or internment, without trial of any person who is engaged in activities that are "prejudicial to the preservation of public peace and order or to the security of the State;" however, this power has not been invoked since the late 1950's. A 1998 amendment to the act allows police to detain suspects in certain crimes, usually those involving serious offenses with firearms or explosives, for 48 hours. A 24-hour extension is possible if approved by a judge. The act also curtails the right of silence. Under the amendment, if the accused was informed of the consequences of remaining silent to questions regarding his whereabouts, associations, or actions, then the accused's silence may be used as corroborative evidence of guilt. The accused person's failure to respond to accusations of membership in an illegal organization also may be used as corroborative evidence of guilt. However, the accused may not be convicted based solely on a refusal to speak.
Membership in or leadership of an illegal organization carries a possible life sentence under the 1998 amendment to the Offenses Against the State Act; illegal organizations are defined by the act. The word of a police superintendent can be used as corroborative evidence of membership. Collecting information to aid in the commission of a serious offense carries a penalty of up to 10 years' imprisonment, a fine, or both. Withholding information that could prevent a "serious" offense or that could aid in the apprehension or conviction of a perpetrator also is illegal, with a penalty of up to 5 years' imprisonment, a fine, or both.
The Criminal Justice (Drug Trafficking) Act permits detention without charge for up to 7 days in cases involving drug trafficking; however, to hold a suspected drug trafficker for more than 48 hours the police must seek a judge's approval.
The law allows a court to refuse bail to a person charged with a serious offense where it is considered reasonably necessary to prevent the commission of another serious offense. A schedule of serious offenses is defined by law; the offense must be one that carries a penalty of 5 years' imprisonment or more.
The accused has the right to a trial by jury for all offenses, except summary offenses and cases brought before the Special Criminal Court or a Military Tribunal. Likewise, the accused has the right to legal representation. Enshrined in the Constitution are the rights of all individuals to have access to the courts, fair procedure, habeas corpus protection, a speedy trial, the exclusion of unconstitutionally obtained evidence and protection against self-incrimination.
The state must provide legal representation, under the guise of the Legal Aid Board, if the accused cannot afford representation.
Criminal cases are investigated by the police. The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) does not investigate criminal cases. When the accused pleads guilty in summary and indictable offenses, the case may be dealt with summarily in the District Court, with the consent of the DPP. Indictable offenses which are not triable summarily have a preliminary examination before the District Court. If there is sufficient evidence, the accused is forwarded to the Circuit Court, where s/he is tried before a jury of 12 people. There must be a majority vote of at least 10 jurors in order to determine a verdict. The Special Criminal Court is similar to the controversial Diplock Court of Northern Ireland in which scheduled offenses are tried before 3 members of the judiciary. However, the DPP has the power to decide on a nonscheduled case being heard before the Special Criminal Court.
The Constitution provides for the office of Attorney General, which acts as advisor to the government on matters of law and legal opinion. Since 1974, a special office, the Director of Public Prosecution, has been in charge of all prosecution within the Republic of Ireland. The office, however, has delegated the prosecution of summary offenses before the district courts to the police.
For criminal cases, there is no alternative to going to trial. There is no plea bargaining. However, the accused may plead guilty and the police have the discretion to lessen the number of charges. The majority of criminal cases go to trial. An accused may be remanded in custody awaiting trial or released on bail. However, remand in custody is mandatory for the crimes of murder, sedition or membership in an illegal organization.
The decision to grant bail depends on the probability of the accused evading justice, the seriousness of the charges, the nature of the evidence, the likelihood of the accused disposing of evidence and the anticipated sentence. The character and past criminal record of the accused also play a crucial role in determining whether bail will be granted. If bail is refused, the accused is remanded in custody. The High Court may hear appeals of the District Court decisions on bail applications.
The Highest court is the Supreme Court, which has the power to decide whether a Bill passed by the Oireachtas is constitutional. It has appellate jurisdiction for all decisions of the High Court, and the Court of Criminal Appeal, and can pass rulings on questions of law submitted by the Circuit Court.
The Court of Criminal Appeal handles appeals brought by persons convicted on indictments in the Circuit Court or Central Criminal Court. Its ruling is final unless the court, Attorney General or the DPP deem it a point of law of exceptional importance, after which it may be taken to the Supreme Court. When exercising its criminal jurisdiction, the High Court is known as the Central Criminal Court.
For purposes of the circuit court, the country is divided into 8 circuits. It has the same jurisdiction as the Central Criminal Court for all indictable offenses, except murder, treason, piracy and allied offenses. Finally, the lowest court is the District Court which sits at 248 venues throughout the country.
The Special Criminal Court was established to deal with a list of scheduled offenses. There also exists the Family Court, which deals with separation agreements, and the Children's Court, which deals with the welfare of juvenile offenders.
Most judicial appointments in the Republic of Ireland are made from the ranks of Barristers with a minimum of 10 years experience. However, solicitors with 10 years experience are eligible to become District Court judges at the District Court level.
The sentence is determined by the presiding judge. There are no formal sentencing guidelines, and no formal criteria for the imposition of custodial or community-based sentences. However, the 1993 Criminal Justice Bill has permitted the DPP to apply for leniency of sentence. Sentencing particulars are also recommended by the Law Reform Commission, which is appointed by the government.
Psychiatrists and social workers, such as probation officers, have input into sentencing at the discretion of the judge.
Imprisonment is available as a punishment in a wide variety of cases. The sentence can either be immediate, ranging from 1 day to life, or suspended. Also available are a number of noncustodial sentences, such as fines, which represent the most common penalty. Fines are typically used for summary offenses. Probation orders and related penalties, such as community service, calling upon the resources of the probation service, are also used. Finally, the court may award an absolute or conditional discharge. While there are no minimum sentences, there are maximum sentences. For example, incest with a victim under 15 years old has a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.
For all practical purposes, the death penalty has been abolished in Ireland, even though it is still on the statute books for capital murder.
Currently, The Constitution provides for an independent judiciary, and the Government generally respects this provision in practice. The judicial system consists of a district court with 23 districts, a circuit court with 8 circuits, the High Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal, and the Supreme Court. The President appoints judges recommended by the Judicial Appointment Board, who choose from a list presented by the Government.
The Director of Public Prosecutions, an independent government official, prosecutes criminal cases. Jury trials usually are used in criminal cases, and the accused may choose an attorney. For indigent defendants, the State assumes the cost of providing counsel under the criminal legal aid scheme.
The Constitution explicitly allows "special courts" to be created when "ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order." In 1972 under the law the Government created a nonjury "Special Criminal Court" (SCC) to try "scheduled offenses". Largely a reaction to paramilitary violence from Northern Ireland, the use of the SCC was justified over the years as necessary to address the problem of jury intimidation in cases involving defendants with suspected paramilitary links. In 2000 the SCC indicted 36 persons and held 26 trials, compared with 25 indictments and 18 trials in 1999.
In addition to scheduled offenses, the Director of Public Prosecutions can have any nonscheduled offense tried by the SCC by certifying that the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace. In lieu of a jury, the SCC always sits as a three-judge panel. Its verdicts are by majority vote. Rules of evidence are generally the same as in regular courts; however, the sworn statement of a police chief superintendent identifying the accused as a member of an illegal organization is accepted as prima facie evidence. Sessions of the SCC generally are public, but judges may exclude certain persons other than journalists. Appeals of SCC decisions are allowed in certain circumstances. The Government has continued to review the ongoing need for the SCC.
There are a total of 12 penal institutions. There is one maximum security prison, which is usually used for terrorist offenders, and two high security prisons, one of which is used particularly for sex-offenders. There are also two adult committal prisons, both of which have female sections, two open adult centers, one semi-open adult prison, and four institutions of varying categories that deal with juvenile offenders.
In total, the prison system had a capacity for 2,214 inmates in 1992 and there were 19,000 admissions to prisons. The average daily prison population was 2,120.
According to the 1992 Annual Prison Report, there were 2,377 prison officers in employment.
There is a national prison service. In order to qualify for appointment, one must have passed the state school final examination.
In 1994, the estimated annual expenditure on prisons was 81.96 million Irish pounds.
There is automatic remission for good behavior after prisoners have served a quarter of their sentence. In theory, all prisoners are entitled to automatic remission.
While all institutions have educational and/or vocational programs, financial constraints do not allow the demand for these programs to be met. Group therapy is available, most notably for sex offenders and for inmates who have abused alcohol.
Remand prisoners have a right to unlimited visits, while sentenced prisoners may have visitors once a week. Weekend leave is also very common. However, in the case of murderers and sex-offenders, the leave must be incorporated into a formal pre-release program.
In 2001, prison conditions generally met international standards. The physical infrastructure of many prisons was inadequate; however, following charges that prisons were overcrowded and lack in-cell sanitation facilities such as toilets and running water, many were undergoing renovation. Prisons also lacked sufficient health care facilities and services. Cloverhill remand prison and Mountjoy women's prison (the Dochas Center) began full operations in 2000. These new facilities were designed to accommodate 1,200 prisoners and thereby help reduce overcrowding, which they have done. The country has a low incarceration rate (80 inmates per 100,000 population), and the prison regime is generally liberal. Male prisoners are held separately from female prisoners, juveniles are held separately from adults, and pretrial detainees are held separately from convicted prisoners.
Prisoners with complaints of mistreatment by prison officials or negligence of health and safety due to prison conditions have access to mechanisms for redress; however, according to the Justice Department, there were no allegations of mistreatment of prisoners by the Prison Service during the year 2001, and there were no outstanding claims from previous years.
The authorities have continued to arrest and incarcerate at Portlaoise prison persons involved in paramilitary activity. Conditions for these inmates are generally the same as those for the general prison population.
Domestic and international human rights monitors are permitted to visit prisons without restriction. The Council of Europe's Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT) visited prisons in 1998, and in 1999 the Government responded to the CPT's report with plans for improving conditions. In 2000 the Government published a follow-up report as requested by the CPT, noting government actions that resulted in renovations and improved conditions in prisons.
Domestic violence and emotional abuse are common problems. According to the Dublin Rape Crisis Center, the overall number of reported rapes continued to rise, and during the year 2001, there was a significant increase in the number of calls received by the center in all categories. In 2000 the center received 8,150 calls. The center estimated in 2000 that only 28 percent of rape and child sexual abuse victims reported the crime to police and that 6 percent of these cases resulted in convictions, with 44 percent of cases pending. Recent rape victims and victims raped by a stranger were more likely to have reported the rape to police.
The law criminalizes rape within marriage, and the Civil Legal Aid Act provides for free legal advice to victims in cases of serious sexual assault. In rape cases, the State brings the case against the accused, with the complainant (victim) acting as a witness. The 2000 Sex Offenders Bill provides that "separate legal representation will be provided to complainants in rape and other serious sexual assault cases where application is made to adduce evidence or to cross-examine the complainant about his or her past sexual experience."
The sexual abuse of children is a problem and has continued to receive significant media attention. The Dublin Rape Crisis Center has reported that 55 percent of calls to its crisis line involved child sexual abuse. The Child Care Act places a statutory duty on government health boards to identify and help children who are not receiving adequate care, and it gives the police increased powers to remove children from the family when there is an immediate and serious risk to their health or welfare. The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act aims to protect children from sexual exploitation, including any exchange of information on the Internet that implies a child is available for sex.
TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS
The law prohibits trafficking in persons; a series of news articles in 2001 on trafficking claimed that women have been trafficked for prostitution, but no specific cases have been confirmed by authorities.
The NGO Ruhama, which deals with prostitutes, reported the case of an Eastern European woman who was trafficked into Ireland, and forced into prostitution; however, government officials could not confirm the case. Ruhama estimated that of the 400 prostitutes they knew to be in Dublin, 134 were Eastern European women, and because illegal immigrants and asylum seekers are in a vulnerable position, they may be more subject to being forced into prostitution. The chief superintendent of the National Immigration Bureau reported that a national search of brothels found no cases of trafficked individuals.
The Child Trafficking and Pornography Act criminalized trafficking in children for the purpose of sexual exploitation, with penalties of up to life imprisonment. The Illegal Immigrants (Trafficking) Bill criminalizes the activities of persons trafficking in illegal immigrants and asylum seekers. There is no specific legislation addressing trafficking in women for sexual criminal activities, although laws prohibit the exploitation of prostitutes, and the exploitation of prostitutes by means of coercion or fraud. Traffickers who facilitate for gain the entry of illegal immigrants or asylum seekers are liable for fines or imprisonment for terms ranging from 1 to 10 years.
The Ministry of Justice and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were involved in antitrafficking efforts, and there are links between government officials, NGO's, and other elements of civil society on trafficking issues. A coalition of NGO's that deal in part with trafficking issues met during the year 2001, but their efforts focused more on smuggling and asylum problems.
Ireland continues to play a relatively small role in international drug trafficking. However, drug abuse is on the rise, especially among adolescents and teenagers. Irish authorities stepped up their efforts at interdiction and demand reduction in 1998, and laid the groundwork for new legislation expected in 1999. Ireland is a party to the 1988 UN Drug Convention.
Recent drug seizures within the Republic and off its coast have confirmed that Ireland is used as a transit point for the shipment of narcotics to and from continental Europe. While the current flow of drugs is not thought to be significant, Ireland's extensive and largely unguarded coastline means that transshipment is likely to increase in the future. Ireland is not a significant source of drugs or precursor chemicals, and money laundering appears to be limited.
The Irish government has continued to make anti-drug efforts one of its top priorities. In 1998, authorities moved to consolidate and expand the powers of the counternarcotics institutions implemented in 1997. The government also announced plans to propose new legislation concerning mandatory prison sentences for drug dealers, the creation of an exclusive drug-court system, the use of banned sports drugs, and money laundering reporting requirements. Ties were strengthened between the Garda Siochana (National Police) and EUROPOL to include the establishment of a EUROPOL liaison position in the Garda.
Cultivation of narcotics in the Republic is limited to small quantities of cannabis. Garda has been able to dismantle limited indoor growing operations throughout the year. The Garda has noticed an increase in methamphetamine and cocaine coming into Ireland, prompting fears that domestic production of psychotropic substances may have started. However, there is no evidence of domestic drug production within the Republic, as yet. In 1998, there were record-breaking drug seizures, and several large narcotics networks were dismantled. A continuing concern of Irish authorities is that narco-traffickers are building more complex networks and distribution systems which involve non-Irish criminals. Ireland actively seeks the extradition of drug traffickers from various states within the European Union. Irish agencies support and work closely with international law enforcement communities. Ireland signed bilateral agreements with the U.S. on customs cooperation in 1996, and taxation in 1997. Officials of the USG and Ireland held informal discussions last year regarding the possibility of negotiating a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty (MLAT) and held extradition consultations. Irish counternarcotics organizations continue to work closely with their counterparts in Europe and the US. In 1998, the Garda developed the "Oisin Programme" aimed at promoting regional cooperation between Garda and regional UK police departments, including the Royal Ulster Constabulary, the Strathclyde Police, and the Dumfries and Galloway Constabulary. A conference was held in Dublin on April 2 on crack cocaine and methamphetamine which was attended by 60 delegates, including two experts from local U.S. police departments.
Demand reduction programs are coordinated through an inter-agency process linking cabinet level government officials with local committees and task forces. The government recently announced its commitment to create 13 new local drug task forces to facilitate education and prevention programs. Rehabilitation programs are the responsibility of health authorities. A new Garda water unit was added on the Shannon Waterway to combat the flow of narcotics by boat. Funding was approved for the recruitment of an additional 550 Gardai as part of the "Programme for Government." The Irish Department of Justice proposed a minimum mandatory 10-year sentence for those convicted of dealing drugs worth 10,000 Irish pounds or more. The Department of Justice also proposed extending mandatory sentences for money laundering to include accountants, lawyers and real estate agents.
Irish authorities stepped up their interdiction of counternarcotics in 1998. This resulted in two historic drug busts, as Garda and Irish Customs carried out Ireland's largest cocaine and heroin seizures ever, which together netted approximately $158 million worth of narcotics. It is estimated that Irish authorities seized over $112 million worth of heroin this year alone. The street price of heroin remains steady, around $40 a gram. Garda "walk about" operations, such as "Dochas," "Mainstreet" and "Cleanstreet," have seized drugs worth up to $4.74 million and have resulted in significant numbers of arrests.
The Irish defense forces also contribute to anti-narcotics efforts in Ireland. The Navy sees drug interdiction as one of its major roles while patrolling the territorial waters of Ireland. The Irish Navy hosts an annual meeting to coordinate maritime counternarcotics operations between the Navy, the Garda and Irish Customs. It also conducts several annual maritime exercises with the British Navy specifically to interdict narcotics trafficking. During the past year, the Irish Navy has provided technical assistance, professional expertise and diving support in several drug seizures aboard vessels at sea. The Irish Air Corps supplies a variety of aircraft in support of these operations.
There were no verifiable instances of police or other official corruption related to drug activities in 1998.
The United States and Ireland have an Extradition Treaty from 1984, as well as customs cooperation and taxation agreements. Ireland is also a party to the 1961 UN Single Convention and its 1972 Protocol, the 1971 UN Convention on Psychotropic Substances and the 1988 UN Drug Convention, the Council of Europe Conventions on mutual assistance in criminal matters, and the EUROPOL Convention and EU-U.S. agreements on chemical precursors. Ireland is a member of the Dublin Group and has assumed the Chairmanship this year. As a participant in the UNDCP, Ireland contributed approximately $279,000 to the organization's funds in 1998. The USG has concluded a Customs Mutual Assistance Agreement (CMAA) with the Government of Ireland. In addition, Ireland is a party to the World Customs Organization's International Convention on Mutual Administrative Assistance for the Prevention, Investigation, and Repression of Customs Offenses (Nairobi Convention), Annex X on Assistance in Narcotics Cases.
In 1998, Irish authorities continued to seize relatively small numbers of marijuana plants. Cannabis is grown indoors using hydroponic methods. The Garda is concerned about possible development of synthetic drug production facilities, but as yet, has no evidence of that.
Y ear 1998 saw record seizures indicating increased trafficking of narcotics through and into Ireland. Irish authorities have acknowledged that the Republic acts as a "gateway" for imports of cannabis, cocaine and amphetamines to continental Europe. Cocaine is believed to originate in Colombia, other countries in Latin America, and the Caribbean. Cannabis and amphetamine shipments are believed to originate in The Netherlands and eastern Europe. Additionally, Ireland has received heroin shipments through Liverpool, UK.
Internet research assisted by Megan Gustine