Rethink on bail laws

Our story today of a possible cover-up involving the case of a violent criminal who committed murder while on bail raises questions not just for the Garda authorities but also the operation of our bail laws.

The 16th amendment to the Constitution, passed in 1996, provided that a court could refuse bail where it feared that, while at liberty, a suspect would commit a serious criminal offence. Up to then, bail could only be refused if the accused was a flight risk or likely to interfere with witnesses.

Considering that this is the law of the land, it is extraordinary that a man could commit murder while on bail — twice — on charges concerning two separate violent offences.

While the presumption of innocence is an important civil liberty, it should never trump the over-riding consideration of protecting life — the greatest civil liberty of all.


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