The Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse Act 2000: A Review In Light Of Murray v. Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse

Author:Nathan Reilly
Position:Senior Sophister Law, Trinity College, Dublin
Pages:29-40
THE
COMMISSION
TO
INQUIRE
INTO
CHILD
ABUSE
ACT
2000:
A
REVIEW
IN
LIGHT
OF
MURRAY
V.
COMMISSION
TO
INQUIRE
INTO
CHILD
ABUSE
NATHAN
REILLY*
The
last
decade
has
seen
tribunals
of
inquiry
increasingly
used
by
the
Oireachtas
to
investigate
issues
of
public
importance. These
tribunals have
been
used
to
inquire
into
such
diverse
matters
as
how patients
were
given
contaminated
blood
by
hospitals,
whether
Ddil
representatives
planned
to
import
arms
for
the
IRA
and
whether
payments
were
made
to
politicians
so
that
land
would
be
rezoned.
The
reasons why
public
tribunals,
as
opposed
to
courts, were
employed
in
such
instances
were
plentiful.
Not
only
were
they seen
as
more cost-effective,
efficient
and
procedurally
relaxed
than
the
courts,
but
they
also
quenched the
thirst
of
the
public
to
have
egregious
acts
exposed
and
to
end
the
so-called 'culture
of
impunity'.'
Although
they
serve
a
legitimate purpose,
the
proliferation
of
such
tribunals
has
not
been
without
cost.
As Murphy
J.
opined
in
Maguire
v.
Ardagh:
2
[A]n
investigation
by
a
non-judicial
body, though
incapable
of
imposing
any
penalty
or
sanction
can
inflict very serious
damage
to
the
character
of
the
witnesses
called
before
it.
I
To avoid
that injustice,
"and
vindicate
the
constitutional right
of
the
citizen
to his
good
name",
4
the
courts
have
held
that
the
Constitution
requires
that
certain
procedures
are
followed,
through which
an
accused
is
entitled
to
vindicate his
own name.
These
procedures
have
been
held
to be
a
constitutional pre-requisite
in
any
tribunal affecting
the
good
name
of
Senior
Sophister
Law,
Trinity
College,
Dublin.
For
a
comprehensive
overview
of
this area,
see the
Law
Reform
Commission,
Consultation
Paper
on
Public
Inquiries
including Tribunals
of
Inquiry
(March 2003).
2
[2002]
1 IR
385.
'Ibid.,
at
576.
4
Ibid.
©
2004
Nathan
Reilly
and
Dublin
University
Law
Society

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