At the Four Courts this morning as Chief Justice Frank Clarke (screens) speaks during the first remote sitting of the Supreme Court with Media Relations Officer Gerry Curran, far left, and Irish Times journalist Mary Carolan, right
The Court Service of Ireland writez:
Today for the first time ever, the courts in Ireland sat with all parties being present in court via remote video technology.
These Virtual Courtrooms will add to the other social distancing measures introduced by the courts in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal heard matters in individual cases via judges, practitioners and parties appearing via video from remote locations.
The cases were displayed on video screens in largely empty courts for members of the media present.
In the near future, reporters will be able to access cases remotely via secure and password protected links – acting as the eyes and ears of the public.
The courts will roll-out the technology in suitable cases in the coming days and weeks.
Other initiatives to organise future court hearings via extended social distancing planning will continue and expand in the coming weeks.
In a statement delivered in court via remote link, The Chief Justice, Frank Clarke emphasised that modernisation of processes was also taking place, in tandem with the use of technology.
He said that a new practice direction provided for new ways of clarifying matters in cases – in advance – so as to allow for a change in how the court and counsel interact via technology.
He indicated that this would aid the use of technology by proving for less interjection for clarification purposes during the hearings.
Virtual remote courts piloted in Ireland this morning (Courts Service Ireland)
Related: Supreme Court judges concerned about physical sittings due to Covid-19 risk (Mary Carolan, The Irish Times)
From top: Supreme Court judges – with Chief Justice Frank Clarke (centre) – in Waterford this morning; Graham Dwyer
The Supreme Court has said it intends to refer Graham Dwyer’s case over the retention and accessing of his mobile phone metadata to the Court of Justice of the EU.
The court ruled the State’s appeal against convicted murderer Graham Dwyer’s successful challenge to the retention and accessing of mobile phone data.
The seven judges gave their decision in Waterford in a judgment that broadcast live on RTÉ News Now.
…Dwyer’s appeal against his conviction is on hold pending the outcome of these proceedings.
Appeal in Dwyer case referred to EU Court of Justice (RTÉ)
UPDATE: The judgment can be read in full here
Four Courts, Dublin
Mary Carolan, in The Irish Times, reports:
“A separated father of three with joint custody and access rights has won a significant Supreme Court appeal over Dublin City Council’s categorisation of him on its housing list as a one-person household.
“…The five judge court’s unanimous ruling has implications for more than 800 separated persons in similar situations on the council’s housing list who were treated as single person households, meaning a lower Housing Assistant Payment (HAP), after their former partner was categorised as a larger household with a larger HAP.
“…The children stay with their father three nights weekly in his one bed apartment and spend the other four nights with their mother in a larger unit.
“He gets €990 monthly Housing Assistance Payment (HAP), a single person’s rate while she gets a larger HAP as a separated mother.”
Separated father wins Supreme Court appeal on housing support (Mary Carolan, The Irish Times)
DUP leader Arlene Foster and deputy leader Nigel Doods
The Deputy Leader of the DUP has said the Supreme Court ruling must be respected and accepted it is possible the UK may not leave the EU on 31 October.
Nigel Dodds told RTÉ News be believes the court ruling, and what he called “the shenanigans” in the House of Commons had weakened Boris Johnson’s hand in negotiations.
Asked for his party’s response to the unanimous court ruling, he said: “The Supreme Court has spoken, the judgment must be respected.”
Dodds accepts UK may not leave EU on 31 October (RTÉ)
Former chief executive of Rehab Angela Kerins
The Supreme Court has declared the actions of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee as unlawful in its treatment of the former chief executive of the Rehab Group, Angela Kerins.
The court said by conducting a public hearing in a manner significantly outside of its terms of reference and which also departed significantly from the terms of the invitation issued to Ms Kerins, the committee had acted unlawfully.
The Supreme Court also noted that issues raised in these proceedings about the conduct of Dáil committees were capable of being remedied by the Oireachtas.
Supreme Court rules PAC acted unlawfully in dealings with Kerins (RTÉ)
In the Supreme Court.
Fianna Fáil local election candidate for Dublin’s North Inner City Brian Mohan won his appeal against a previous Court of Appeal ruling.
The Court of Appeal ruled that he lacked legal standing to challenge the constitutionality of 2012 laws linking State funding of parties to parties meeting gender quotas when selecting candidates.
The Electoral (Political Funding) Act 2012 provides that a political party which doesn’t have at least 30 per cent male and 30 per cent female candidates in a general election would have its funding halved.
The Supreme Court found that he does have the legal standing to make his challenge.
His challenge will now be heard in the High Court at a later date.
At the Supreme Court sitting in Limerick this morning
The Supreme Court, sitting in Limerick, delivered a judgment about the extent of the rights of the unborn.
It followed an immigration case involving a Nigerian man, his Irish partner and their child, who was 20 days away from being born when the case began in May 2016.
The man wanted a deportation order made against him by the Department of Justice to be revoked and argued that the Minister for Justice had to consider an unborn child’s existing or prospective rights.
Mary Carolan, in The Irish Times, reports:
The Supreme Court has unanimously ruled that the unborn has no constitutional rights outside the right to life in the Eighth Amendment.
In a landmark judgment on Wednesday, the seven-judge court ruled the High Court was wrong to find the unborn has constitutional rights outside Article 40.3.3 and was also wrong to find the unborn is a child within the meaning of Article 42a.
However, it upheld findings by the High Court that the Minister for Justice is required to consider the prospective constitutional rights of an unborn child when considering whether or not to deport their non-Irish citizen parent.
The decision clarifies the constitutional position of the unborn in advance of this summer’s planned referendum on Article 40.3.3, which guarantees equal protection for the right to life of the unborn and its mother.
Supreme Court rules only constitutional right of unborn is right to life (The Irish Times)
The ruling can be read in full here
Further to the Supreme Court’s unanimous finding in May that the ban preventing asylum seekers in Ireland for working is “in principle” unconstitutional…
Mary Carolan, in The Irish Times, reports:
“The Supreme Court has told the State it will make a formal declaration next February that the absolute ban preventing asylum seekers working here is unconstitutional.
“The five-judge court said on Thursday the declaration will be made on February 9th, irrespective of what progress the State has made towards addressing the court’s findings on the ban.
“…Nuala Butler SC, for the State, said the Government was in the process of opting into the EC Reception Directive, which contains a provision requiring member states to afford the right to work in certain circumstances, but the matter was complex with many issues requiring to be addressed.
She urged the court not to make a formal declaration of unconstitutionality today, saying it would lead to a “flood” of applications seeking permission to work.
“…Michael Lynn SC, for the Rohingya man who brought the successful challenge to the ban, said his side would prefer a declaration was made today but did not want to create “unnecessary obstacles” and the issue was for the court to decide.
“…The Rohingya man, aged in his thirties, spent eight years in direct provision before getting refugee status here last year. While offered work in his direct provision centre in 2013, he could not take that up due to the ban on seeking work.
“While in direct provision on a €19 weekly allowance, he suffered depression and “almost complete loss of autonomy”, he said. Being allowed to work was vital to his development, personal dignity and “sense of self worth”.”
Court to rule work ban for asylum seekers is unconstitutional (Mary Carolan, The Irish Times)
Further to the Supreme Court’s decision earlier today.
That the absolute ban prohibiting asylum seekers from work is unconstitutional.
And the court adjourning the matter for six months to allow the Oireachtas decide how to address the situation.
On the Human Rights In Ireland blog…
Law lecturer at University College Dublin Liam Thornton writes:
The ball is now firmly in the court of the Oireachtas. However, the Oireachtas must be reminded (contact your TD here), that they are not starting from a blank slate.
First, the Irish High Court has already ruled that maladministration in rendering of a lawful decision on a protection claim may result in damages being awarded to an asylum seeker. Therefore, whatever course of action the Oireachtas takes, lets get this right.
There has to be some focus on the ability of our quasi-judicial bodies who determine protection claims to do their work efficiently, but most importantly to be fair to asylum applicants.
Second, It would appear, that if Ireland became part of how European Union society deals with this question, then our Parliamentarians need to look no further than EU law for a solution to this constitutional protection of asylum seekers right to work.
The Recast Reception Directive (which Ireland is not bound by), provides asylum seekers a right to work should generally be granted after 9 months where a first instance decision has not been rendered on a refugee/protection claim. The McMahon Working Group on the Protection Process and Directive Provision made a recommendation (para 5.49) that once the International Protection Act 2015 was operating efficiently, that Ireland abide by this 9-month rule.
Whatever the Oireachtas decide, this constitutional right of asylum seekers to have a freedom to enter employment must be effective, and not illusory (borrowing how the European Court of Human Rights insists on the realness of granted rights).
Asylum seekers and the right to work: The Supreme Court decision (Liam Thornton, Human Rights in Ireland blog)