How can we have faith in courts’ judgement?

All around the world, institutions that once enjoyed respect, if not trust, struggle to sustain the support they once took for granted. 

How can we have faith in courts’ judgement?

Governments are distrusted in ways that lead to sweeping, regressive, change. The authority once enjoyed by the Catholic church is no more. Banks, once bastions of bourgeois respectability, are reviled.

Traditional media, where credibility is the essential currency, are derided as servants of dark forces. Social media is a free-for-all where fact and assertion occasionally collide. Our police, exposed by report after report, have lost credibility. The list of institutions undermined by action or inaction lengthens by the day.

Earlier this week the sentence handed down in a road death court case in Donegal was another blow to the relationship between our courts and the public they represent.

The case brought into question the accountability and judgement of our judiciary and their understanding of their authority. Eamon Lynch, who had almost 500 previous convictions, was sent to jail for just 18 months after he was involved in a crash that cost student Shane Patton his life.

Lynch was drunk, driving at 165km/h in a 100km/h zone. He did not have a driving licence, a valid NCT, tax or insurance on his car but he may not spend even a year in jail. This sentence demeaned judicial independence, our courts, our police, our society and shattered one of the links of trust we all depend on.

The leniency of this sentence must be challenged.

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