23/07/2009

Gang And Defamation Bills Signed Into Law

Highly controversial new legislation has become law.

The Defamation and Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bills have been signed this morning by President McAleese.

During their passage through the Oireachtas both Bills were the subject of considerable controversy and even at the last minute, the President met 19 of the 22 members of the Council of State for nearly three hours to discuss whether to refer the two Bills to the Supreme Court to test their constitutionality.

Te Defamation Act includes a definition of the crime of blasphemy and provision for its prosecution.

The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act introduces new measures against gang crime and allows the non-jury Special Criminal Court to try cases involving criminal gangs.

The Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern welcomed the moves, saying the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act would greatly help gardaí to tackle gangs head on.

But there's ongoing opposition. The Irish Council for Civil Liberties said the Criminal Justice Act is riddled with legal pitfalls, and is bound to provoke further legal challenge to its constitutionality.

(BMcc/JM)

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