ACT – Anti Corruption Taskforce
Mission Statement, August 2016 – What we are campaigning for!
1. Introduction of 3 Judge Courts in ALL Courts, from District Court to High Court and in ALL Court proceedings i.e. Criminal, Civil, and Family Courts.
2. All Court proceedings to be recorded by video with good sound quality. Such recordings to be made freely available on demand to ALL parties to proceedings.
3. The complete abolition of the In Camera Rule in Family courts. At present the appearance of the media in such court rooms is at the total discretion of the presiding Judge and anyone breaking the In Camera Rule now faces a maximum of 5 years in prison which is a gagging order.
4. Complete abolition of political appointments to positions of power and influence, including but not limited to, ALL of the Judiciary, Senior Gardai, DPP, State Solicitors, Central Bank Governor, Director General of RTE. This system to be replaced by ‘Citizens Selection Boards’, members of which will be randomly picked in the same manner as Jury Service.
If we the people are considered competent and capable enough to decide the innocence or guilt of a murder suspect in the Central Criminal Court, or competent and capable enough to select our TDs or President, then we are competent and capable enough to decide who can be Judges, Garda Commissioners, Chief prosecutors, State Solicitors or Central Bank Governors.
5. At least 50% of staff in all grades within the oversight/regulatory bodies must be citizens randomly chosen in the same manner as Jury Service.
6. Corruption and Malfeasance on the part of state employees to be made an OFFENCE AGAINST THE STATE, punishable by sentences ranging up to life imprisonment, depending on the severity of the corruption.
7. Any state employee proven to have engaged in a corrupt act to be removed from office and prohibited from being on the state’s payroll for life. This must also apply to elected politicians. The ‘Citizens Selection Boards’ will be responsible for such dismissals.
8. Charities and quangos that receive public funding must have audited accounts made available on line each year. Failure to do so must result in a permanent withdrawal of public funding to that charity/quango.
9. ALL state employees and ALL those indirectly salaried by the state to be precluded from membership of secret societies, including but not limited to: Opus Dei, Knights Of Columbanus and Freemasons. Any state employee or anyone salaried indirectly by the state who is proven to be a member of such a secret society to be prosecuted under new legislation which will govern standards in the public service.
10.Law Society and the Bar Council complaints mechanism to be taken out of the hands of the legal profession and made subject to an independent ‘Citizens Complaints Board’. This board to be selected in the same manner as Jury service.
11. Lay Litigants to be entitled to appoint any person of their choosing to represent them in any court proceedings, irrespective of that person’s legal training or qualifications and that person to be afforded the same rights in court as a lawyer i.e. to address the court and to cross examine witnesses.
The present McKenzie Friend system is ineffective because it is at the Judge’s discretion. It is also an impediment to fair and due process to the lay litigant in the court room. If the McKenzie Friend system was of benefit to the lay litigant, then the legal profession would not allow it.
12.Every person to be entitled to free legal representation by a private legal firm relating to ANY LEGAL MATTER, be it criminal or civil and relevant legal fees paid for by the state through a ‘Citizens Legal Assistance Fund’. This will entitle any person who is wronged by any other person, corporate entity or state body to instigate proceedings for damages. At present justice in this regard is only available to those who can afford to pay for it. This mechanism will also negate the necessity for the Legal Aid Board, which is a state body and which could never be trusted to represent the interests of a person engaged in litigation against a fellow state body. The savings made by the total abolition of the Legal Aid Board can be transferred to the ‘Citizens Legal Assistance Fund’.