The Independence of the Judiciary Is an Important Value in Irish Constitutional Law

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“The independence of the judiciary is an important value in Irish constitutional law”.

Article 35.2 states “All judges shall be independent in the exercise of their judicial functions and subject only to this Constitution and the law”.The above Article and Article 6 encapsulate the separation of powers in the Irish Constitution, from the perspective of the judiciary. The judiciary guard their exclusive powers jealously. In Buckley v. A-G [1950] I.R. 67 (otherwise known as the Sinn Féin Funds case), the plaintiff, President of Sinn Féin, sued to recover £2,000 of funding vested in pre-split Sinn Féin. While the action was pending, the Oireachtas passed the Sinn Féin Funds Act 1947, which stated that the action was to be dismissed without costs on application by the Attorney General and the funds in question vested in a State board. The former Supreme Court held that this would, in effect, leave the action in dispute to be decided by the legislature and was accordingly unconstitutional.The action has to be actually before the courts for such an interference to be unlawful: in State (Divito) v. Arklow UDC [1986] I.L.R.M. 123, the applicant had merely published statutory notice of his intent to apply for a gaming certificate, having not yet initiated the legal process, and the respondent’s alteration of procedure to exclude him was therefore constitutional.In Agoudimos v. Greece (2003) 36 EHRR 1131, the ECtHR held that Article 6.1 of the ECHR prohibited such judicial interference with pending legal actions save where “compelling grounds of the general interest” could be shown.In Maher v. A-G [1973] I.R. 140, statute providing that a certificate stating that a defendant’s blood contained excess alcohol would be “conclusive evidence” of that fact was held unconstitutional, by depriving the District Judge at trial of the power of ascertaining what constituted evidence, and what evidence was conclusive.In State (O’Rourke) v. Kelly [1983] I.R. 38, a statute compelling...
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