Quote of the day

Minister Brian ‘Biffo’ Cowen on the News at One.

Well I mean I have answered the questions insofar as is knowledgable in my knowledge.

More transcript below the fold.

SOR:…it seems neither the AG nor the Minister for Justice Equality and Law Reform had personal knowledge any idea what was going on right under their noses, I mean how could that possibly be defended?

BC: I think it’s important to point out that this matter was being provided for by the State in the courts and that the Court upheld the State’s position. When it came to the Supreme Court, they came up with their decision last week, up until the 12th of May the DPP was continuing to prosecute, to initiate, indictments against people charged with statutory rape under that current legislation. And you know, it was eh, you cannot anticipate the terms in which the Supreme Court will makes a decision…

SOR: But how come these two gents didn’t know what was going on? That’s what people are mystified by. And how can they keep their jobs in the light of that knowledge?

BC: Hold on now a minute. In the issue here, the legal team, the people who are employed by the AG’s office and the DPP’s office, those people were in the court putting the case dealing with the same arguments which had been successfully advocated in the High Court, putting them to the Supreme Court. And on the basis that that position had been endorsed in the High Court the balance of probability I would suggest was very much in the hope that it would continue, that that position would continue …

SOR: … but are you saying that they only needed to know if the case was lost?

BC: No, I am simply saying that, look, we were not … the government were not … prepared to weaken the law, the government didn’t … wasn’t in a position to bring forward a pro active step that would weaken the law …

SOR: But that’s not the question I’m asking you Minister, I’m just simply asking you should Michael McDowell and Ruairi Brady not have known in some detail that this case was going through the courts?

BC: The point I’m making is that there are a whole range of cases brought forward by the State that are before the courts and legal teams are employed by the DPP, by the AG’s office and others to handle those cases on behalf of the State. And the policy positions and how we were to argue for them would have been agreed …

SOR: Fine, that’s the detail of it. But should they not have known these cases, this case, was coming up?

BC: I’ve explained it insofar as is possible for me to explain it…

SOR: No but you haven’t answered the question and I’ve asked you three times.

BC: Well I mean I have answered the questions insofar as is knowledgable in my knowledge.

SOR: No but should they not have known?

BC: I do not agree that it was a question that they had to know every detail of that case

SOR: Should they not have known it was happening without necessarily having read the briefs?

BC: The position was … the situation is … and I’m saying this … I cannot add to this any further, with respect, is that the legal teams were arguing on the basis of policy positions adopted by those offices and they were putting the case before the courts concerned. That’s what they were doing, and really that is the situation. And I want to make the point…

SOR: But why won’t you give an opinion Minister as to whether Ruairi Brady and Michael McDowell ought to have known?

BC: … because I have confidence in the…

SOR: are you saying they didn’t need to know?

BC: I am saying I have confidence in the Minister for Justice and the AG, I have full confidence in them. And I want to make the point that …

SOR: Despite the fact that they didn’t know what was going on under their noses?

BC: (Brief pause) What was going on Sean was that the State legal team were advocating a position on behalf of the State in a professional manner endorsed by the High Court and they were doing it in the Supreme Court as well. And it’s not the practice that in respect of every case that’s going before the courts, and there are many going before the courts on a daily and weekly basis, those principal officers that have you mentioned have the details of those

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