"I may be wrong and you may be right, and by an effort, we may get nearer to the truth." (Karl Popper)

Friday, May 04, 2007

FF manifesto

Fianna Fáil launched its manifesto (pdf.) yesterday. This post is nothing like a full analysis; it's just some excerpts I came across in glancing through it. On foreign affairs, the manifesto says:

"Neutrality is central to our vision of Ireland as the bridge between the developed and developing world, the intermediary and facilitator in peace processes, the first on the ground in a major humanitarian crisis – the model UN State for the 21st century. Our policy for the next five years is to Make Neutrality Count. We believe neutrality enhances our standing internationally. Our goal is to use that standing to build peace and deliver development." p12/153 (pdf.)
The document also states an intention to place Ireland "at the heart of UN efforts to respond rapidly to humanitarian and human right crises in the developing world." ibid. The manifesto also promises not to establish diplomatic relations with Burma until Aung San Suu Kyi is released and to press for a complete ban on the use of cluster bombs. p 13/153 The word "terrorism" is nowhere to be found in the document; the only reference to nuclear power is in relation to Sellafield. p 65/153. There is no mention of what should be the E.U.'s policy towards Iran.

The FF manifesto reiterates the Government's commitment to a constitutional amendment on the rights of the child, one of the goals of which is to "put an end to the tragic position which forbids children in long-term care or the children of a marriage from being adopted by loving parents." p 133/153 Another stated goal is to "ensure that the best interests of the child are put centre stage in the adoption and care systems and in all custody disputes." I was under the impression that the latter was
already the law. (See Guardianship of Infants Act 1964, s 4)

In relation to the criminal justice system, the manifesto proposes setting up "a Judicial Sentencing Commission under the auspices of the Courts Service ... comprised only of serving judges from each of the State’s courts and its powers will include the power to establish sentencing guidelines." p 103/153. It says these guidelines will "improve the consistency of judicial sentencing without impairing the independence of trial judges in specific cases", but that trial judges will be "required to follow the Commission’s guidelines or to explain why the guidelines are not being followed in any particular case." ibid. Formal annual reviews will be instigated to monitor implementation of the new sentencing and bail regimes mandated under the Criminal Justice Act 2007. p 104/153. There would also be a new provision allowing the D.P.P. to appeal District Court sentences on the grounds of undue leniency. In addition, the "two strikes and you're out" mandatory sentencing regime recently introduced for drug crime by introducing similar proposals in respect of violent crime and sexual offences. ibid. Interestingly, but somewhat vaguely, the FF manifesto pledges to "[i]ntroduce means to ensure that criminal trials can no longer be collapsed because of legal technicalities. This will include legislation and, if necessary, appropriate amendment to the Constitution."


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