Time to get Irish politicians out of foreign courts
August 3, 2011 7 Comments
David Norris remarked yesterday, at the press conference outside his front door, that he has lobbied American courts and politicians to help inmates who have been given the death penalty.
Currently, controversy is brewing over Gay Mitchell’s decision to intervene on behalf of pro-life activist Paul Hill, who murdered two people in Florida: a doctor who carried out abortions and his bodyguard (also wounding the wife of one of the men).
I happen to strongly disagree with the behavior of Irish politicians in their attempts to influence foreign courts. Aside from the important separation of powers issue that applies domestically, Ireland does have a traditional policy of neutrality. It is my opinion that Ireland’s politicians, it’s elected representatives, are violating the spirit of this when they lobby for defendants in American courts, Israeli courts or courts in Timbuktu. The death penalty in America is an American issue. There are good arguments in all sides of the fierce debate, and Ireland should not be so arrogant as to try and force its views on another legal system. I sincerely doubt Gay Mitchell has more insight on the matter than the American judiciary or the Governor of a state. A very important question must also be asked: what kind of criminals have Irish politicians like David Norris and Gay Mitchell been assisting? Would all those who elected them agree to the representation made partly in their names? I have deep issues with the death penalty, and I believe we are better of without it in most circumstances. However, I have met many people involved in the trial and capture of Adolf Eichmann, and this has had a strong affect on me to say the least. There are some crimes that can never be atoned for. Crimes where the accusers number thousands, even millions, of dead bodies that simply merit death.
But I digress.
If the Irish people want neutrality, they should have the nerve to make their politicians stand by that policy. Ireland has often demonstrated its commitment to neutrality is quite phony. The government of Jack Lynch even went so far as to train Egyptian Air Force pilots in 1978. Those who express commitment to Irish neutrality should follow the logical conclusions of their principles to demand the elimination of all foreign aid programs and the end of condemnations of the policies of other countries in the Oireachtas, whether that involves America, Israel, Cuba or Venezuela. There should be no selective condemnations or expressions of support for foreign leaders on the basis of sympathy with that leader’s ideology in a neutral nation. Advocates of neutrality must stop elected officials lobbying on behalf of foreign criminals in their name. Otherwise, Irish neutrality will mean nothing. And I happen to think it currently does mean nothing.