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Ó Snodaigh introduces legislation to remove age restrictions on jury service

24 April, 2008

Sinn Féin Justice Spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD will today introduce a Bill in the Dáil which, if adopted, would remove the current age limits restricting participation on juries.

Speaking before he introduced the Bill today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Today we are introducing a short Bill entitled the Juries (Amendment) Bill 2008 the effect of which is to remove the current age limits restricting participation on juries.

"As Age Action have rightly highlighted the current age limit unnecessarily prevents hundreds of thousands of older people from performing their civic duty. Persons over the age of 65 make up over 10% of the population. The absurdity of the situation is demonstrated by the fact that a person over the age of 70 can offer expert testimony to a court yet they are prohibited from serving on a jury whose role it is to weigh up this evidence. The age limit is even lower at 65 years in the case of the coroner's court.

"In response to a parliamentary question that I put to him last week the Minister confirmed that he is open to the changes we propose but that he would require cabinet approval. The purpose of our Bill is to make it clear to cabinet members that there will be broad support for this move from many parties. And to put the heat under their heels in order for them to bring forward the necessary legislative changes without delay. A legal challenge to the age limit is already in process.

"Sinn Féin's Bill would ensure competent juries that are better representative of every possible defendant's piers. Our Bill would also retain the current provision whereby anyone over 65 years of age can also decline to serve on a jury at their own discretion." ENDS

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