Justice has been done.

I'm on holiday at the moment but, predictably, I'm still checking the news from Ireland every day and as might be expected from this post I've particularly been following the Joe O'Reilly trial.

The verdict today was exactly what I'd expected, and hoped for.

Apparently there is some disquiet about it because of the nature of the evidence (circumstantial rather than physical/forensic). I think this is a misunderstanding of the law. Circumstantial evidence is every bit as valid in building a case against a defendant; it's easier to explain away, but the crucial thing is that the defence has to actually do so (explain it away, I mean) - and Joe O'Reilly's didn't.

The jury has to find the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt - not beyond any doubt. They have to find that it is reasonable to believe that somebody other than the defendant could have committed the crime. With the evidence that was presented, and with Joe O'Reilly's lack of any explanation of it, combined with the virtually incontrovertible proof that he lied about his whereabouts at the time of the murder, it would really take a stretch beyond "reasonable" to imagine that it wasn't him. "Theoretically possible", sure, but that's not the standard required. If it was, you'd hardly ever get a conviction for anything.

Anyway, I'm sure that now the trial's over we'll start hearing all the details that weren't allowed to be introduced in court and that should seal it for any remaining doubters.

RIP Rachel.

The Dáil session 2006-2007: and so it ends

... much as it started, with the sitting suspended on two out of the three days this week because of the Government's failure to schedule enough legislation.

Good thing they didn't agree to the Opposition proposal to come back on September 11 (hmm) instead of the 26th. God knows what they'd find to talk about.

More Leinster House redundancies

A little bird has told me that a number of TDs on the Government side of the chamber - including at least one newly-appointed Junior Minister - have decided to sack their long-serving support staff and put family members in their place.

Not that this would surprise anyone, of course. But I thought it was worth a mention.

Joined-up thinking, Fianna Fáil style

Two actual Parliamentary Questions and their replies, published yesterday:

Q: To ask the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment if a non-EU citizen whose work permit has expired and who has since married an Irish citizen needs a further work permit to resume employment here.
A (Minister Martin): A work permit is not required for an employee married to an Irish Citizen. The person can regularise their status by contacting the Department of Justice.

Q: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform how a non-EU citizen whose work permit has expired and who has since married an Irish citizen can obtain a residency permit.
A (Minister Lenihan): Marriage to an Irish national does not confer an automatic right of residence in the State. Applications of this kind take approximately twelve months to process. Should the person wish to continue employment while the application is being processed, they should renew their work permit.

Narrow nationalism 1, international solidarity 0

Earlier this year, immigration 'reform' legislation was introduced in the Dáil. The legislation contained some of the most draconian provisions ever announced in this country, including harshly punitive measures for most undocumented immigrants, and limitations on their right to challenge the Government's decision on their status; biometric ID requirements; new restrictions on the right to family reunification; and the creation of an underclass of temporary migrant workers with few labour rights and no prospect ever of permanent residency. The bill was strongly opposed by civil liberties organisations and many of the country's leading trade unions, as well, of course, by left or left-leaning political parties such as Sinn Féin, Labour, and the Greens, who condemned its obvious human rights violations.

If the above paragraph doesn't sound familiar, it's because I've changed a couple details. The bill I'm talking about is real (and so are all those measures, and the bit about the civil liberties and trade union opposition), but it wasn't introduced in the Dáil - it was the US Congress. And far from condemning it, every major political party in this State lobbied heavily for its passage. Including the left or left-leaning ones. Including my own.

The reason, of course, is because of one of the few positive provisions in the Bill - the regularisation process for those undocumented immigrants who can afford it. For the sake of a relative handful of Irish people to whom, let's face it, the worst that could happen is that they'd have to come back and live in Ireland, we have not only accepted but actively supported legislation that we would never in a million years agree to in this country.

I understand the realpolitik involved, and I'm sure that if I had a loved one in the US who I hadn't seen in years because of the current immigration regime (as opposed to just a lot of friends in that situation, which I do have), I'd probably be more concerned about them than about the millions of people - mostly poor, brown-skinned, Spanish-speaking - who are going to suffer greatly when this legislation is finally passed.

But it still makes me a little bit sick.
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