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03/11/2021 12:00:00 AM


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Howlin, Brendan

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Criminal Procedure Bill 2021

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Report and Final Stages

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Criminal Procedure Bill 2021\Report and Final Stages
Bills\Criminal Procedure Bill 2021\Report and Final Stages

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Criminal Procedure Bill 2021

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Report and Final Stages

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Senator


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Deputy Brendan Howlin

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Deputy Brendan Howlin

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Brendan Howlin

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Snippet Contents:

Most people in the House would be supportive of the intentions of the movers of this amendment. We were all deeply concerned at trials in the past, both here and in our neighbouring jurisdiction, where issues were raised at trial that most of us would regard as entirely extraneous and unacceptable to be raised in the conduct of a trial.
This particular legislation deals with trying to streamline the procedures of trials in order that as many technical and legal issues as possible can be resolved in advance of a jury being sworn in and the trial proper taking place. The intention is to streamline the entire process and avoid a situation where jurors are sworn in and are left waiting days on end for legal argument to be made while they are cocooned in a jury room. The rules that apply to that process must, obviously, be fair. I am mindful of enacting any legislation that, in the unfolding of events, has an effect that we did not intend. We will rectify one such defect when we turn to the Children (Amendment) Bill later today. That Bill proposes to amend the Children Act 2001, which was being interpreted in a way that was never intended by the Oireachtas to the effect that it is not possible to identify the dead victims of crime who are children. We are going to put that right. None of us involved in the enactment of that legislation in 2000 foresaw that interpretation could be made although, in plain English, it patently was possible.
My only concern about the amendment certainly does not relate to the intention behind it but applies to its outworking. If issues arise or information is made available in a future trial that was not available in the preliminary discussions and would have a real impact on the conduct and outcome of the trial, and interfere with fair procedures, we would not want any inhibition in law to an application being made at that stage. For that reason, I am minded to listen carefully to the argument made by the Minister. She might address the core intent of the movers of the amendment, which is to ensure that the issues which we regard as unacceptable cannot be raised in preliminary hearings either.