State could not be trusted to support citizens who suffered at the hands of its institutions
Sat Feb 11 2023 - 00:09 Sir, – Justine McCarthy hits the nail on the head when she states that the State has facilitated thwarting vulnerable citizens, primarily by threatening to chase them for legal costs (“The Attorney General would say that, wouldn’t he? – Time and again this State has used public money to intimidate and crush the vulnerable in court”, Opinion & Analysis, February 10th). While comparing the treatment of those threatened citizens to the absolution of those responsible for building defects, she strikes a chord with one of the contents of the new Planning Bill. In its provision to restrict judicial review, it is “bullying the weak while sucking up to the powerful”, through the threat of massive costs. The three crucial changes proposed are that a civic group must be a company to take a judicial review, which very few are; that the first approach to the court is “on motion”, which exposes all to much larger costs at an early stage; and that planning decisions may be changed during the process – a guarantee of uncertainty and increased legal costs. These provisions show a lack of trust in the judiciary, which is a very worrying development. They also express a disdain against the voice of the citizen. When the State distrusts the citizen, the citizen starts to distrust the State. Around the world, we have seen how this leads to poor outcomes.
In all of the cases that she refers to, the State could not be trusted to support citizens who suffered at the hands of its institutions. The attempt to deny the citizen the right to hold the planning institution to account is a poor reflection on us. – Yours, etc,
ROBIN MANDAL, FRIAI