2019

Working Notes Issue 84 Editorial

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, Current

PdfIconEditorial

We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad. Our modern approach to thinking about law has disadvantages, not least the harm that it does to those who are declared “criminals”. It can also be morally flat-footed. G.K. Chesterton understood this when he once quipped in a Father Brown story that the criminal is a creative artist, and the detective is only a critic.1

Why can't we take economic crime seriously?

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, Current

PdfIconWhy can't we take economic crime seriously?

David McIlroy

INTRODUCTION

Economic crime is a defining vice of the neoliberal age. In every direction, the poor, the weak and the vulnerable are being ripped off. The scams take several different forms. Some people are conned when they buy products and services which they want, but which carry conditions exposing them to hidden and unfair charges. Small businesses, which were forced to take out complicated financial derivatives as a condition of a bank loan, were subjected to this by banks on an industrial scale between 1999 and 2009. Many customers were sold worthless financial products as an add-on. Even if the customer knows that they have bought the product, they will not know that the small print means that it gives them no real benefit. This is the case of the many consumers who were sold card protection or payment protection insurance (PPI) policies. Still others are exploited or have money extorted from them. The victims of these crimes could be the little old lady who agrees to part with her savings in a telephone scam, the person who is persuaded to transfer their pension into an offshore development scheme, or the business forced to appoint a fraudulent turnaround consultant who proceeds to strip its assets. Each of these types of economic crime raises its own issues. This brief article will focus on the reasons why all too often, the most blatant and large-scale frauds go unpunished.

Theological Reflection: Remembering the Gap Between Crime and Sin

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, Current

PdfIconTheological Reflection: Remembering the Gap Between Crime and Sin

Kevin Hargaden

INTRODUCTION
While in the popular imagination, crime and sin tend to be joined in the same universe, when we look to the Christian tradition, we find a much more nuanced account of how these two concepts relate. While few would object to discussions of criminality, there is a knee-jerk hesitancy to engage any discussion framed in terms of sin. When we consider the history of modern penal institutions, and re-consider the Christian account of sin, we find that the older religious language has merits in terms of transparency and complexity that more popular terms lack. Even without any religious commitments, thinking in terms of “sin” allows us to think about penal policy in a reflexive fashion that is unexpected and profoundly timely.

Understanding Crime in Prison

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, Current

PdfIconUnderstanding Crime in Prison

Beth Duane

INTRODUCTION
Prison life in Ireland is not exempt from crime. While the common belief holds that a person receiving a custodial sentence will be stripped of opportunities to commit crime, research has shown that this is not always the case. Although little is known about the prevalence of crime in Irish prisons, violence against inmates and staff, criminal damage and drug abuse are not infrequent occurrences, with implications for prison security and overall safety, in addition to rehabilitation efforts. Such crimes present a considerable challenge for fulfilment of the mission of the Irish Prison Service – to provide “safe and secure custody, dignity of care and rehabilitation to prisoners for safer communities.” There is also the apparent irony of crime being prevalent in the place we send people who have committed crime. If the centres for rehabilitation are more crime-ridden than the outside world, crime in prison poses an existential threat to the justification for incarceration. Understanding why crime in prison takes place requires an understanding of the vulnerabilities that exist within the prison environment, and within the prison population. Problems prior to entering prison – such as mental illness, substance misuse, homelessness, poverty and unemployment, chaotic family backgrounds and social marginalisation – can amplify these vulnerabilities, presenting challenges for the time spent in prison.

Carbon Crimes

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, Current

PdfIconCarbon Crimes

Sadhbh O’Neill 

WHEN DOES A HARM BECOME A CRIME?
Social media users will no doubt be familiar with the increasingly familiar campaigns by cyclists in Dublin to highlight illegal parking on cycle-lanes or dangerous driving. Despite being chided by the Garda traffic bureau, the campaigners share videos and photographs that highlight non-compliance with traffic regulations that put cyclists and pedestrians at risk. Maybe Ireland is peculiar in this respect, but we have a selective attitude to complying with the law, and the Garda Siochána have a similarly selective approach to enforcing it when it comes to traffic violations. For instance, cars are not regularly confiscated when they block cycle lanes, unlike e-scooters. When put under public pressure, enforcement activities by the Gardaí increase. Otherwise however, everyday hazards and offences go unpunished. We are used to this way of things. We put up with intolerable congestion and related social and environmental risks because our behavioural norms have not yet shifted to consider car-drivers as “deviant” rather than “normal”. 

Working Notes Issue 83 Editorial

on Monday, 04 February 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

Editorial

When Pope Francis met with a number of survivors of clerical abuse during his visit to Ireland in August 2018, the impact was profound. The expectations of those he met were minimal — that they would sit and listen, and he would leave after 30 minutes. Instead, the meeting went on for an hour-and-a-half and everyone was given an opportunity to speak. Francis listened intently, expressing his anger at the harm caused and his shame at the failure of the Church authorities to tackle clerical abuse in Ireland.

Immediately after meeting the survivors, Francis met with members of the Irish Jesuit community. It was not a coincidence that he spoke about abuse within the Church, making specific reference to Ireland, Chile and the United States. Francis called upon the Irish Jesuits to help, by speaking out. In December the Jesuit Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat in Rome established the Project for the Promotion of a Consistent Culture of Child Protection. This Jesuit project is being administered from Ireland and will identify gaps in existing programmes and make recommendations to promote a culture of protection in the 70+ countries where Jesuits work.

Lifelong Harm of Trauma and Homelessness

on Thursday, 31 January 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

Lifelong Harm of Trauma and Homelessness

Dalma Fabian

INTRODUCTION

Rates of homelessness are rising in almost all EU countries with a 150% increase in Germany from 2014 to 2016, a 20% rise in the number of people in emergency shelters in Spain over the same period, and an 8% increase in Denmark between 2015 and 2017. In the Netherlands 4,000 children in 2015 were registered with local authorities as homeless, up 60% on 2013. While the official number of people experiencing homelessness in Ireland is contested,1 the number has increased by 200% between July 2014 and November 2018, family homelessness having particularly contributed to this rise.2

Mortality rates among people experiencing homelessness are shockingly high. In England, the average age of death for men is 47 years old and for women it is even lower at just 43 years old. This is compared to 77 years old for the general population.3 Findings from a 2016 study of mortality among people experiencing homelessness in the Dublin region found that the average life expectancy was 44 for men and 38 for women.4 The impact of homelessness on the individual and society is profound, and it is therefore increasingly important to develop effective strategies to prevent and reduce the phenomenon. 

What Harm a Poor Healthcare System?

on Thursday, 31 January 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

What Harm a Poor Healthcare System?

Sheelah Connolly

INTRODUCTION

What constitutes a good healthcare system? Opinions differ, but the World Health Organisation (WHO) has simply defined it as one that: “delivers quality services to all people, when and where they need them.”1 This definition is closely aligned to the much-discussed concept of universal healthcare. While the term is somewhat ambiguous and often used without explanation, most commentators agree that universal healthcare encompasses individuals receiving the care they need without suffering financial hardship.2

A majority of European countries introduced universal healthcare (to a lesser or greater extent) during the 20th Century. However, Ireland remains an anomaly in Europe in not providing it. In this article, I explore some of the benefits of universal healthcare before examining the shortcomings of the Irish healthcare system and their potential for harm.

A More Humane Approach to Addressing Harm

on Thursday, 31 January 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

A More Humane Approach to Addressing Harm

Tim Chapman

INTRODUCTION

The core value of the common good, which sustains community and justice, is being eroded in modern society.1 Globalisation has provided many material comforts, but resulted in an underlying sense of insecurity and risk.2 Many people have lost the experience of solidarity with others that community and religion offered in the past. They feel threatened by other groups, often blaming them for their lack of access to employment, housing and public services.

In this paper, which is based upon research commissioned by a Catholic philanthropic organisation, an alternative, and more humane approach to addressing harm is presented – one that has a greater potential for positive outcomes. In our original research, we were interested specifically in the values of human dignity, active participation in society, the common good, social justice, and solidarity. These are concepts that also serve as core components of Catholic social teaching. Our goal was to explore if these values could transform the way society responds to crime.

Reflections on Ireland's Response to Potentially Irreversible Climate Change

on Thursday, 31 January 2019. Posted in 2019, Issue 83 Harm of Inaction, Back Issues

Reflections on Ireland's Response to Potentially Irreversible Climate Change

Thomas L. Muinzer

INTRODUCTION
Ireland stands at an important historical moment. We live in an era where the world is endeavouring at last to get to grips with what philosopher Noam Chomsky, recently deceased physicist Stephen Hawking, and many others have described as one of the greatest problems facing humanity, that is, anthropogenic (human driven) climate change.1 Ireland has the capacity to make a world-leading contribution towards overcoming this challenge. However, its current performance is extremely poor given the diminishing time available to prevent dangerous climate change.

Writing six years ago in the Cork Online Law Review, produced out of Cork University, I made some general observations on Ireland’s overall performance in the sphere of climate governance, and ended with a question.2 Alluding to W.B. Yeats, I invited the reader to “call to the mind’s eye”3 from out of the grave John Tyndall (1820–1893), the Victorian scientist, and ask what he would make of Ireland’s climate commitments and performance if he were alive today (?). Tyndall was chosen not only because he was Irish (from County Carlow), but because he made essential contributions to the unfolding understanding of the science behind climate change.4 His most important contribution to science was to demonstrate and measure how atmospheric greenhouse gases absorb heat to different extents. This work made a vital contribution to our understanding of the greenhouse effect that underpins climate change.5