Covering events from January-December 2001

Head of state: Mary McAleese
Head of government: Bertie Ahern
Capital: Dublin
Population: 3.8 million
Official languages: Irish, English
Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes

Following a referendum in June, the Irish Constitution was amended to remove the death penalty and to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court. By the end of the year the government had still failed to pass legislation to incorporate the European Convention on Human Rights into domestic law. The bill was deferred pending consultation. In July the national Human Rights Commission was established in law and began to function. The Review of the Offences Against the State Act(s), set up by the government as part of its undertakings under the Multi-Party Agreement, had not issued its final report by the end of the year. AI called on the government to provide leadership in combating racism effectively.

Shootings by the security forces: updates

  • In April a parliamentary sub-committee began an inquiry into the killing in April 2000 of John Carthy. However, it was quickly suspended and had not restarted by the end of the year. John Carthy was shot by the police Emergency Response Unit (ERU) after he had barricaded himself in his home in Abbeylara, Co. Longford. The sub-committee was formed to examine publicly the internal police report into the shooting; it was given powers to compel oral and written evidence. At the end of April, nine ERU members sought exemptions from giving evidence. In May, 36 police officers were given leave by the High Court for judicial review, arguing that the sub-committee was undertaking an inquiry into the shooting incident, thus going beyond its terms of reference.
    Two police representative bodies joined the family of John Carthy and civil liberties campaigners in calling for an independent public judicial inquiry as the only means of establishing the full circumstances of the killing.

  • At a June inquest, the jury returned a finding – rather than a verdict – that John Morris had died in 1997 from a bullet wound to the head. The family of John Morris and their counsel withdrew from the proceedings some days before the conclusion, because key documents had not been disclosed to them.

There was concern about reports that some aspects of the treatment of detainees who suffer from mental illness may be cruel, inhuman and degrading. These concerns increased following a report in April by the Irish Penal Reform Trust on the treatment of offenders with mental illness, which focused on the effects of solitary confinement. AI wrote to the government in August stating that its concerns included the lack of explicitly stated criteria for the imposition of solitary confinement; conditions in isolation cells; and the prolonged periods spent in solitary confinement.


There was concern that the introduction of video-recording of police interviews into 200 stations had not yet been implemented by the end of the year. In October the government announced that it will introduce an independent system for dealing with complaints made against Gardaí (police).

Dublin/Monaghan bombings

The Independent Commission of Inquiry into the 1974 bombings in Dublin and Monaghan, which resulted in 33 deaths and many injuries, continued to collect evidence about the circumstances of the bombings. The relatives were concerned that the United Kingdom government had not provided full evidence to the Commission.


Among AI's concerns were: the grounds for, and prescribed places of, detention of asylum-seekers and those awaiting deportation; the lack of legal representation at first instance; the excessive use of accelerated procedures; and the proposed introduction of carriers' liability legislation which may obstruct asylum-seekers' effective access to Ireland's asylum procedure. AI also expressed concern that an agreement concluded by the government with Nigeria in September relating to the return of each other's nationals contained no specific provision that the receiving state would protect returnees against ill-treatment.

AI country reports/visits

  • Concerns in Europe, January-June 2001: Ireland (AI Index: EUR 01/003/2001)

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