THE judiciary must be independent and demonstrably so.
The courts’ authority relies on the moral approval they get, even tacitly, from citizens whose lives they can influence profoundly. This hierarchy may not always be recognised but in extreme cases, it has been made real. Legislation under discussion may make it more usual to assess that relationship from the public’s perspective.
The courts exist to hold us to account and they can only do that because they are trusted to do an honest job. The age-old question — whether that job is done in a way that represents the values of society was challenged again yesterday when two criminals, each with a litany of convictions, were given a sentence that means they might be free in 16 months. Limerick bachelor John O’Donoghue, 62, collapsed and died when he challenged the pair of burglars at his home in 2015.
The sanction hardly seems appropriate. This situation is not by any means unique. Earlier this month, a company director, who misappropriated some €66.5m in clients’ funds was not jailed but rather disqualified from being a director for 14 years. This hardly seems convincing either.
Once upon a time the Director of Public Prosecutions refused to explain their decisions. That aloofness became untenable and now some decisions are explained. Theses two recent sentences and many, many more like them suggest our judges should take a lead from the DPP.
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