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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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Deputy Mattie McGrath

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Mattie McGrath

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Snippet Contents:

I too listened quite carefully to what the Minister said and I support the amendment. I agree with what Deputy Howlin said. I imagine that is true of any of us who have had experience of a jury trial. I thank everyone who does jury service because it is an onerous task. It is a fair and good system. Courts, and by extension jurors, can be held up for months. In most cases, people do not get remunerated while they are on jury service. Public service workers do, but those in the private sector do not. One can understand the reason for that, given that cases could last for 20 or 30 days or however long. There is an impact on jurors and their family life. People are restricted and must understand and accept the ground rules of jury service. Quasi legal issues should be tidied up and out of the way before a court sits because when a case commences a jury can be delayed. When juries are sworn in, they should be able to proceed without occasionally being sent home for two days or sent home on a Thursday and told to come back on the following Tuesday. People have lives to live, so it is very important that justice is done and seen to be done.
I support the amendment. In most cases a person is considered innocent until proven guilty. That is the most important part of a prima facie case, but jurors must be respected as well. Technical legal arguments can be involved and judges can adjourn to consult and get some guidance, for the want of a better word.
We also need to look at refresher courses for the Judiciary. I recall Deputy O'Dea talking about that a long time ago when he was a Minister of State in the Department of Justice. It is very important when a trial commences that it would be efficient and that there would be a clear understanding of the ground rules. The less room for equivocation or lack of clarity the better. We must be able to review legislation. Deputy Howlin referred to the Children's Act, which we are amending now. There should always be a sunset clause or review date on legislation because, although there are people in here who are much more learned than I in this area, there can be unintended consequences. There must be a mechanism to review legislation after a settling in period. Goodness knows, six months or 12 months is a short time when it comes to issues concerning the Courts Service. We must make haste slowly. The amendments have been tabled for good reason and there is good support for them. I support the amendments.