A new podcast series, presented by lawyer and former ombudsman Paulyn Marrinan Quinn (pictured), focuses on legal cases that changed Irish lives.
The divorce case involving Charles Stewart Parnell, the right to legal representation for young offenders, and access to contraception are among the topics explored in the six-part series.
‘Cases That Changed People’s Lives – Revisited’ is based on recordings that Marrinan Quinn originally produced for a radio series in 2005.
In that series, leading lawyers, a retired judge and academics were invited to pick a case from Irish legal history that had had a significant impact on society.
De Burca case
In episode one, Gerard Hogan SC – now a judge of the Supreme Court – provides an analysis of the legislation prevailing at the time that was challenged by the 1976 De Burca case. This case focused on the right of women to be automatically selected to serve on juries.
The case featured in episode two was also selected by Mr Justice Hogan, and focuses on the right of access to contraception.
In 1973, 27-year-old mother Mary McGee took a case against the Attorney General and the Revenue Commissioners because, at that time, she could not purchase contraceptives. The Supreme Court ruled by a four-to-one majority in favour of Mrs McGee.
For the third episode, biographer and historian Frank Callanan SC chose the divorce case of Mrs Katharine O’Shea, which took place in London in 1889. Politician Charles Stewart Parnell was the co-respondent in the case.
Taxation of married women
Episode four was introduced by the late Mr Justice Donal Barrington, and focuses on the significance of the 1971 ruling that “prerogative of immunity from suit” did not exist in Ireland after the enactment of the Constitution of the Irish Free State or, subsequently, the 1937 Constitution. This case established the right of the citizen to sue the Irish State.
In episode five, leading lawyer Ercus Stewart SC recalls the sequence of events leading to the Supreme Court challenge that established legal representation as necessarily part of a fair trial.
The final episode in the series features Prof Yvonne Scannell, who chose the 1982 Murphy case – which dealt with the taxation of married women – as one that profoundly changed people’s lives.