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Review to look at ‘all aspects’ of security laws
Michael Peart, former judge of the Court of Appeal Pic: Jason Clarke

16 Feb 2021 / legislation Print

Review to look at ‘all aspects’ of security laws

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has appointed a group of six experts, headed by former Court of Appeal judge Mr Justice Michael Peart (pictured), to review the Offences Against the State Acts.

The acts, which date from 1939 to 1998, set out a range of offences relating to the security of the state, and include powers of search, arrest and detention relating to those offences. In addition, the Special Criminal Court, which sits without a jury, was established by the 1939 act.

Interim report within three months

The Department of Justice said the group would examine all aspects of the legislation, taking into account “the current threat posed by domestic and international terrorism and organised crime”.

The other members of the group are:

  • Dr Alan Greene (Birmingham Law School, University of Birmingham),
  • Anne-Marie Lawlor SC (barrister),
  • Caitlín Ní Fhlaitheartaigh (former Advisory Counsel at the Office of the Attorney General),
  • Professor Donncha O’Connell (School of Law, NUI Galway),
  • Ken O’Leary (former Deputy Secretary General at the Department of Justice).

Minister McEntee said she would be asking for an interim report from the group within three months, along with an indication of how long it would take to complete its work.

Last review was in 2002

She said that while the Offences Against the State Acts and the Special Criminal Court had served the state well, it was important to occasionally review how key legislation operated.

In its 2018 report, the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland recommended a “comprehensive and robust review” of the legislative framework within which police and other agencies operate in the area of national security.

The last review of the legislation was published in August 2002 by a committee under the chairmanship of former Supreme Court judge, the late Mr Justice Anthony Hederman.

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