If a person has reached the age of criminal consent, they ought to be treated the same before the law as everyone else; there should be no privileged exception from disclosure of any criminal’s name; no invidious inequality before the law. In like manner, it seems wrong that a criminal who has held a public office should be precluded from practising once they have served their sentence. My reasoning: One punishment for a crime, in accordance with the law, is justice enough. We have, in the case of rape and sexual assault cases, a register of convicts, with a right of access by the public. This is incongruous with the policy of withholding the identity (or of creating creating a new identity) for minors who murder, or for any juvenile whose court proceedings are not fully public. It is time to reconsider this anomaly.
It wasn’t always the practice. I have a run of examples of past crimes by persons under 18 years — or under 21, when 21 was the age of majority — all of which were published in the newspapers of the day. These papers seem silent on the adverse effects of publication. Yet, at some time, the policy was changed, whether from conjecture or emotional populism.
In one published incident, an 18-year-old drove in such a manner that two of her passengers, who were the same age, were killed. If the driver had been 17, would she have been made anonymous? Although I have lived in Leixlip for 50 years, I do not know the names of the murderers of Ana Kriegel, nor Ana’s family. I have avoided enquiring, though I am satisfied that I could get this information. Of particular interest is the suggestion in published material that Ana Kriegel was shunned at school and bullied, too. Yet there is silence from the school, wherever it is. Surely the public is entitled to know what policy operates to suppress bullying, and to quench hateful discrimination, whether it be racial, religious, based on appearance, or whatever? And if the school is inhibited by the present law or internal regulations, what measures might be taken to put matters right?
These matters of public import are not helped by silence and secrecy.
John Colgan, PC