Posts Tagged ‘ Self Defence ’

A Year in Brief: Part One

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What a year it’s been; Hitler birthday cakes, mutant rats, and Bob Geldof off to space! To celebrate the end of another 365 days here are some of NIB’s favourite stories of the year.

Kicking off the year in festive spirit a man in Derry was fined after stealing a CCTV camera which “became his friend”. Police found Peter Morrison, 24, drunk and “petting” the camera as they arrived to arrest him. CCTV pets are for life not just for Christmas. Continue reading

Controversial Self Defence Law Finally Comes Into Effect

A new law entitled The Criminal Law (Defence and Dwelling) Act 2011 came into effect on Friday last, finally allowing for Irish homeowners to defend themselves against attack in their own home.

The law clearly allows for a homeowner to use justifiable force in the event of the attack, and, more importantly, says that they are no longer obligated to retreat from their home if there is an intruder present. The legislation was drafted after the events of 2004 during which Pádraig Nally, a farmer living in County Mayo, shot and killed a traveller, John ‘Frog’ Ward, who had been trespassing on his land. Although Nally was sentenced to six years in November 2005, his conviction was quashed the following October and he was found not guilty of manslaughter in December of the same year.

The only question is why it took so long to bring into effect, legislation wise, a law which has been in place in other countries for decades. There are roughly 25,000 burglaries each year in Ireland, and over 15,000 of these take place while the victims are inside their home. In America, for example, the Castle Doctrine has been enshrined in law in over 30 states since the early 1980s. And judgements made on the basis of such thinking have been given, favouring the homeowner, since the 1920s.

Concerns have been immediately raised by several parties since the legislation has come into effect. Justice Minister, Alan Shatter, has warned that the new law cannot be used as an excuse to attack someone. Speaking on Newstalk’s breakfast show, the Minister stressed “It’s not a licence to kill anyone.” Mark Kelly, the director for the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is one of the law’s most vocal critics, arguing that the legislation’s provisions “contain insufficiently robust legal safeguards to protect the right to life of householders or intruders.” Speaking on Thursday, Kelly said that this law will only encourage people to use lethal force in defending their property, and that the Act is “at odds with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights.”

Burglars do indeed have the right to life. When they’re operating as normal citizens, and not breaking the law. Breaking into someone’s house, especially while they or their family are inside should be a waival of this right and the acknowledgment that they may lose more than their freedom. One fear is that the knowledge that homeowners have the right to stand their ground will simply serve to cause burglars to arm themselves before breaking and entering. Then again, the thought that someone may be waiting inside with a fully loaded shotgun, ready to stand their ground, may be just the deterrent such cowardly criminals really need.