An Irish Judgment of Solomon?

Who would be a judge, when faced with two sets of parents willing to provide a home to a child? Yesterday, the Supreme Court decided N v Health Service Executive [2006] IESC 60 (the ‘Baby Ann’ case). Reversing the High Court, the Supreme Court held that a two-year-old girl who has lived with her prospective adoptive parents since she was three months old is to be returned to her natural parents on a phased basis. It was a desprately difficult decision, and my heart goes out to everyone affected by the decision.

There is extensive coverage in today’s media. (more…)

Ireland top of Press Freedom table

How we see ourselves, and how others see us, don’t always correspond. Our usual view of the state of press freedom in Ireland is pessimistic. But Reporters Without Borders rank Ireland top of their Worldside Press Freedom Index 2006, equal first with Finland, Iceland and the Netherlands. Bottom are North Korea, Turkmenistan and Eritrea. Christine Newman reports on the Index in today’s Irish Times, and it makes it onto other blogs such as Finfacts and Wynner’s Blog, but I have been unable to find any official reaction. Perhaps this is becuase of a certain satisfaction, if not surprise, at our ranking. But we should not feel too smug or sit on our laurels. There is much still to do, not least the long delayed defamation reform. If that happens, we might consolidate our welcome position at the top of the league.

Real university rankings

Earlier this month, the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) published its world university rankings for this year. (The Trinity College Dublin (TCD) press release on our positions in the rankings is here). As univerities world-wide tie themselves up in knots to improve their positions on the various tables published by the Times, the THES, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, and US News & World Report, amongst others, here’s a rankings scheme that I think they should all take seriously: Eamonn Fitzgerald on Rainy Day has ranked some of the world’s top universities simpy for the attractiveness of their websites. TCD didn’t feature (funny, that); and Brown is best.

So, just how useful is the European Convention on Human Rights?

The European Convention on Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (ECHR) gets a good press, and rightly so. The world is a better place for it. Ireland finally got around to incorporating it in 2003, by means of the European Convention on Human Rights Act, 2003, but a report launched tonight argues that it has had very little effect so far.

It may be that it is simply too early to tell. (more…)