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Showing posts from July, 2009

President signed Bills

I was disappointed to learn today that President McAleese signed both the Defamation Bill 2006 and the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009 into law. The president of the Republic has only two non-ceremonial powers. One is to refuse a Taoiseach's request to dissolve the Dail and the other is to refer a potentially unconstitutional law to the Supreme Court. One would think that since both of these laws were so controversial that they would have been worth testing.

In fact the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Bill 2009 is probably exactly the kind of law that the framers of the constitution would have had in mind when they wrote it. The President's role is to protect the people and against any government that might attempt to trample on their basic rights. But President McAleese is not the kind of president that is going to rock the boat or stand up to the government. She never was.

The people of Ireland are slightly less safe now and their civil liberties are damaged. Hopefully the…

Regulation Good, Free Market Bad ?

Recent problems in the finance industries have given many commentators good cause to call for better regulation of the sector. I am a great believer in the power of the market to sort the wheat from the chaff and I generally think that the market should be left to its own devices. Free market economics has gotten a bad rap lately, especially in Ireland. For many years government policy fanned the flames of the property bubble. A variety of tax incentives distorted the property market and cause prices to rise much higher than they might have had the market been left to function normally. Yet somehow the facts have also been distorted and much public discourse seems to revolve around the premise that the free market is to blame for the country’s woes. There are indeed reasonable arguments that tighter regulation of the financial sector might have made things a little better. But of late these have been distilled into the simplistic principle that regulation is good and deregulation is b…