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December 17, 2017

The Supreme Court Ireland

by N@ncy


Author: Who is Mac Cormaic?

  1. Ruadhan Mac Cormaic is the
  2. former Legal Affairs Correspondent and
  3. Paris Correspondent of the Irish Times.
  4. He is now the paper’s Foreign Affairs Correspondent.

What were the main struggles between 1950 – 2017 ?

  1. The duty of the Supreme Court judiciary is:
  2. Not rewrite the Constitution of Ireland
  3. …but make sure it was applied
  4. …to breath life into it
  5. …to break with the traditional reliance
  6. …on English law and legal methods


What is the book about?

  1. The book traces many landmark decisions and gives the reader an
  2. inside look at the internal ‘give and take’ among the judges
  3. to produce an objective agreement or dissent decision.
  4. It reveals who the judges are
  5. These men and women who usually want to stay out of the  limelight.

How did Ireland change?

  1. Ireland moved from decisions about
  2. butter smugglers, disputes over greyhounds and a row about livestock licenses
  3. to individual’s privacy rights (contraceptives),
  4. referendum for European treaties,
  5. decriminalization of homosexuality and
  6. women’s rights to leave country to seek an abortion in England and much more.
  7. Ireland has made GIANT steps to become a
  8. modern, young, confident and economically strong country.


What impressed me about the book?

  1. It was fascinating to read each judges motivation to topics about
  2. the privacy of the individual (May McGee vs Attorney General; contraceptives)
  3. the need for more equality  to allow
  4. women  to serve jury duty and
  5. be fairly taxed
  6. a demand for referenda about European treaties
  7. secure the rights of people concerning
  8. the rules applied for extradition of
  9. …suspected criminal (IRA) offenders to England.


What is essential to know before reading the book?

  1. Political parties: this is all new for me!
  2. Fianna Fail     (center right)
  3. Fine Gael      (center right… liberal conservative)
  4. Oireachtas: = the legislature  (structure of the Irish government
  5. The President of Ireland
  6. The two houses of the Oireachtas
  7. Dáil Éireann (lower house)
  8. Seanad Éireann (upper house)

What was my reading strategy?

  1. Best tip: use wikipedia
  2. Put  a face on people mentioned in the book.
  3. Best tip: learn structure US courts vs Irish courts
  4. …just to put things into perspective.



  1. Strong point:
  2. Ruadhán Mac Cormaic is a political journalist for the Irish Times.
  3. His writing style is NOT ACADEMIC…it is  accessible
  4. …not only for those interested in law but also for
  5. anyone wanting to learn more how these
  6. …Supreme Court justices shaped Ireland.
  7. Mac Cormaic gives us the gripping inside story of the Irish judiciary,
  8. the judges, decisions, the rifts and the rivalries.
  9. Ruádhan Mac Cormaic lifts the veil on
  10. the Irish Supreme Court’s hidden world.
  11. The book is well-written and highly entertaining and
  12. in my opinion…
  13. #InformativeRead



  1. Ireland 1950’s:
  2. economy stagnant
  3. politics still haunted by civil war
  4. ceaseless outward flow of people (emigration)


  1. 1960’s:
  2. broader shifts in society
  3. growing economy
  4. rising living standards


  1. 1970’s:
  2. emigration slows down
  3. women’s movement gaining strength
  4. population is young 50% under 26 yr


  1. 1980’s:
  2. High Court has its first female judge
  3. Mella Carroll


  1. 1990’s:
  2. First female and non-catholic…
  3. Supreme Court judge….Susan Denham.
  4. Chief Justice of the Supreme Court 2011-2017.
  5. She was a shrewd diplomat and key player behind
  6. a series of major reforms.


  1. 2000’s
  2. Supreme Court was must
  3. Focus on:
  4. ensuring rights in political, criminal
  5. …and legal processes of the State.
  6. Focus on
  7. ...fair procedures and access to the courts


  1. 2010’s:
  2. Change:   Fianna-Fail led governments
  3. appointed a majority of lawyers who had
  4. NO connections to the party!
  5. Susan Denham is appointed as the
  6. first female Chief Supreme Court Justice! (2011)


Read more from Ireland, non-fiction

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