Reconstituting Sentencing Policy in the Republic of Ireland

Liz Campbell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The latter part of the twentieth century heralded an exponential increase in crime rates in the Republic of Ireland1 and a concomitant burgeoning of political and popular dissatisfaction with the apparent inability of the criminal justice system to prosecute successfully and punish adequately those responsible for such criminality. To this end, alterations to all aspects of the criminal process have been implemented so as to augment the powers of the Irish state, from investigation and pre-trial procedure,2 during the trial itself,3 through to the post-trial setting. This article focuses on a number of statutory changes in the last context (post-trial), developments which signify a drift away from customary norms of flexibilit3, proportionality and judicial discretion. However, despite statutory incursions, the interpretation of these measures by the Irish judiciary, based on the existing constitutional framework, offsets the punitive and pragmatic drive of the legislature and may mitigate the potentially detrimental effects on the individual offender. Whether a gap exists between the judicial dicta in the superior courts and the application of the law in practice will be explored, as this may undermine the perspective of the courts as rights-enforcers in the face of legislative adversity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)291-303
Number of pages13
JournalNorthern Ireland Legal Quarterly
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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