Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?

Working Notes Issue 84 Editorial

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, 2019, Current


We tend to think that law defines what crime is. This makes sense because contemporary legal codes are concerned with marking out the territory where conduct is permissible by specifying the conduct that is outlawed. Yet the earliest bodies of law – consider for example, the Torah or Hammurabi’s Code – are at least as committed to articulating the good as proscribing the bad. Our modern approach to thinking about law has disadvantages, not least the harm that it does to those who are declared “criminals”. It can also be morally flat-footed. G.K. Chesterton understood this when he once quipped in a Father Brown story that the criminal is a creative artist, and the detective is only a critic.1

Why can't we take economic crime seriously?

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, 2019, Current

PdfIconWhy can't we take economic crime seriously?

David McIlroy


Economic crime is a defining vice of the neoliberal age. In every direction, the poor, the weak and the vulnerable are being ripped off. The scams take several different forms. Some people are conned when they buy products and services which they want, but which carry conditions exposing them to hidden and unfair charges. Small businesses, which were forced to take out complicated financial derivatives as a condition of a bank loan, were subjected to this by banks on an industrial scale between 1999 and 2009. Many customers were sold worthless financial products as an add-on. Even if the customer knows that they have bought the product, they will not know that the small print means that it gives them no real benefit. This is the case of the many consumers who were sold card protection or payment protection insurance (PPI) policies. Still others are exploited or have money extorted from them. The victims of these crimes could be the little old lady who agrees to part with her savings in a telephone scam, the person who is persuaded to transfer their pension into an offshore development scheme, or the business forced to appoint a fraudulent turnaround consultant who proceeds to strip its assets. Each of these types of economic crime raises its own issues. This brief article will focus on the reasons why all too often, the most blatant and large-scale frauds go unpunished.

Theological Reflection: Remembering the Gap Between Crime and Sin

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, 2019, Current

PdfIconTheological Reflection: Remembering the Gap Between Crime and Sin

Kevin Hargaden

While in the popular imagination, crime and sin tend to be joined in the same universe, when we look to the Christian tradition, we find a much more nuanced account of how these two concepts relate. While few would object to discussions of criminality, there is a knee-jerk hesitancy to engage any discussion framed in terms of sin. When we consider the history of modern penal institutions, and re-consider the Christian account of sin, we find that the older religious language has merits in terms of transparency and complexity that more popular terms lack. Even without any religious commitments, thinking in terms of “sin” allows us to think about penal policy in a reflexive fashion that is unexpected and profoundly timely.

Understanding Crime in Prison

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, 2019, Current

Beth Duane

Prison life in Ireland is not exempt from crime. While the common belief holds that a person receiving a custodial sentence will be stripped of opportunities to commit crime, research has shown that this is not always the case. Although little is known about the prevalence of crime in Irish prisons, violence against inmates and staff, criminal damage and drug abuse are not infrequent occurrences, with implications for prison security and overall safety, in addition to rehabilitation efforts. Such crimes present a considerable challenge for fulfilment of the mission of the Irish Prison Service – to provide “safe and secure custody, dignity of care and rehabilitation to prisoners for safer communities.” Understanding why crime in prison takes place requires an understanding of the vulnerabilities that exist within the prison environment, and within the prison population. Problems prior to entering prison – such as mental illness, substance misuse, homelessness, poverty and unemployment, chaotic family backgrounds and social marginalisation – can amplify these vulnerabilities, presenting challenges for the time spent in prison.

Carbon Crimes

on Monday, 15 July 2019. Posted in Issue 84 Crime: Who Pays?, 2019, Current

PdfIconCarbon Crimes

Sadhbh O’Neill 

Social media users will no doubt be familiar with the increasingly familiar campaigns by cyclists in Dublin to highlight illegal parking on cycle-lanes or dangerous driving. Despite being chided by the Garda traffic bureau, the campaigners share videos and photographs that highlight non-compliance with traffic regulations that put cyclists and pedestrians at risk. Maybe Ireland is peculiar in this respect, but we have a selective attitude to complying with the law, and the Garda Siochána have a similarly selective approach to enforcing it when it comes to traffic violations. For instance, cars are not regularly confiscated when they block cycle lanes, unlike e-scooters. When put under public pressure, enforcement activities by the Gardaí increase. Otherwise however, everyday hazards and offences go unpunished. We are used to this way of things. We put up with intolerable congestion and related social and environmental risks because our behavioural norms have not yet shifted to consider car-drivers as “deviant” rather than “normal”. 

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