Taoiseach and media accused of ignoring court judgment and rule of law in Maíria Cahill case
In relation to comments in the Dáil made by An Taoiseach himself this week, Peter Madden of Madden & Finucane says:
“During the course of exchanges in Dáil Éireann on October 22nd, An Taoiseach set aside the judicial process and ignored the findings of a court of law.”
The full text of the letter to Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings reads (with our emphasis):
“On October 22nd 2014, I issued a statement on behalf of my clients in response to the unprecedented media onslaught that they have had to endure since the recent BBC Spotlight broadcast.
“Copies of that statement were released to the press and to your office via email.
“I feel it necessary to reiterate the core points of that statement:-
● The cases against my clients were the subject of an intensive and lengthy high-ranking police investigation. They were then prosecuted by the office of the PPS, which was represented at all times in court by an experienced Senior and Junior counsel. The complainant Maíria Cahill was therefore afforded every available resource the state could offer.
● There were protracted legal arguments relating to the procedures and evidence in these cases.
● The charges were to be contested and ultimately Maíria Cahill, the main prosecution witness, was to be cross-examined about her version of events which was not accepted by my clients.
● She refused to allow this to take place and would not participate in the normal method of giving evidence at a trial, where the truth of her version of events would be tested by cross-examination.
● My clients were therefore found not guilty of these offences.
● In any normal society that would be the end of the matter.
● However, the rule of law has been subverted by the ongoing trial by the media and others against my clients.
● Their acquittals have been either ignored or devalued.
“During the course of exchanges in Dáil Éireann on October 22nd, An Taoiseach set aside the judicial process and ignored the findings of a court of law.
“The Director of Public Prosecutions in Belfast has announced the setting up of a review of the prosecution of these cases.
“The Police Ombudsman is to also review aspects of the prosecution of these cases referred to him.
“Both of these processes have been undermined before they have even begun.
“Dáil Éireann is set to debate these cases.
“The Assembly at Stormont is set to debate these cases.
“There have been calls for the Justice Committees in both institutions to debate these cases.
“My clients have had any chance of fairness jeopardised by the continuing blatant disregard for the rule of law.
“An Taoiseach concluded his comments in Dáil Éireann by saying that he would meet “the four people . . . who are named” and that he “would not stand in judgment over them”.
“He has already passed judgment on them.
“Dáil Éireann is not a court of law, neither is the media.
“I am seriously concerned that in the course of the parliamentary debates some will seek to hide behind ‘parliamentary privilege’ and conduct their own ‘kangaroo court’.
“I am advising my clients not to meet with An Taoiseach, at this stage, while the reviews and processes detailed above are ongoing.
“I must also remind An Taoiseach and others that there are still unresolved legal matters on this issue in relation to one of my clients.
“There are other matters and very dangerous precedents involved in all that has transpired over recent days and I intend to address these with the relevant offices and individuals.”