Guilty Before Proven Innocent In IrelandSimon Clark reports on the ‘next logical step’ (© every professional prohibitionist organisation, everywhere) on the never-ending path of smoker bullying. This month, it is banning smoking in cars.
But this part should be worrying to anyone who is interested in personal liberties and the proper application of judicial process.
A stumbling block for the planned legislation was the issue of how gardaí would enforce it, matters around proof of age for children as well as the rights of a driver.
Existing legislation will allow gardaí to judge if a child is underage without the need for identification. Enforcers will also be able to rely solely on their recall of visually seeing a cigarette lit in the car if called on to give evidence in court.
This, of course, relates to the fact that Irish police will have one hell of a job deciding whether an individual is below the age set by the legislation, which would make the law tricky – and therefore costly – to enforce.
Ireland’s answer is to say that police don’t need to bother finding out before levying a €3,000 penalty. Just fine the bastards anyway. ‘Visually’ appears to means that it’s not even required to leave the comfy armchair in front of a CCTV monitor.
If it gets to court, just say that it was believed they were underage and it’s sorted. The accused will be guilty and have to prove their innocence. No recourse for damages or costs if the copper is an eejit – because he was only doing his job, so he was.
They’ve obviously learned a lesson from the equally stupid EU-led legislation on £500 car seat fines which was a laughable disaster back in 2006.
Three police forces in England are choosing not to issue fines to drivers who break new laws on child car seats.
The rules, which came in last September, state children aged under 13 and less than 4ft 5in (1.35m) tall must use booster seats.
But forces in North and South Yorkshire and Greater Manchester said they would not be fining offenders.
A spokesman for North Yorkshire Police said no fixed penalty tickets had been issued since the legislation’s introduction, partly because it was impractical to gauge youngsters’ height at the roadside.
He said: “We don’t have the powers to measure children and request dates of birth. It was particularly aimed at minors, and that was the sticking point.”
And that was about the last we heard of that. This will, of course, not do when it comes to smokers. They must be punished however preposterous the rule may be.
There is also no reason to even prove the person has actually been, you know, smoking. Which means Ireland is going to see quite a lot of cases such as this one now e-cigs are increasingly popular.
He claims a council enforcement officer mistook the fake cigarette for a real one when she spotted Mr Minihan during his rest-break at a picnic area.
Mr Minihan, 52, was initially issued with fixed penalty notices for £125 but elected to go to court and try to persuade magistrates he was ‘smoking’ his £38 Gamucci microelectronic cigarette.
And the court said?
Brian Howells, chairman of the bench, said his story was “consistent” but described the enforcement officer as a credible witness and found in favour of the council.
Of course he did.
No proof; no ‘beyond reasonable doubt’; nothing. Just the say-so of the state-appointed official. Now Ireland has officially proposed a €3,000 fine under the same terms but without even the need to ensure that a law has been broken. So, in Ireland soon, gardaí will not only not have to prove that a passenger is under the age stated within the law but also won’t have to prove that any tobacco was involved.
There is so much about Ireland’s proposed law which is terrifying, or should be to a rational mind. Firstly, the entire premise is based on a flawed and hysterical theory which relies on religious adherence to one of the biggest lies ever told. But now this has fostered a bastard child in the form of an abandonment of any kind of rigorous legal process. Finally, egregious abuse of policing and judicial principles we have held dear for hundreds of years – hard evidence and innocence before guilt – is being actively encouraged in order for the state to ban legal products in private property!
After this, future possibilities are endless since we know how politicians like to employ a precedent, don’t we?.
I don’t care whether you are a libertarian, are indifferent to tobacco policies, or are rabidly anti-smoking – Ireland’s law, as it stands, should scare the bejaybus out of you.
So, if you’re Irish, refuse a lift to any midgets or short teens you know, and don’t breathe out before your car heater has taken the chill out of the air – just to be absolutely safe (well, unless there’s a copper who simply has it in for you).
Oh yeah, and don’t believe the state will leave you to quiet possession of your home either. That’s now merely a work in progress.