Society of Legal Scholars Annual Seminar 2019

The Offences Against the State Act at 80: Omni-Act or Omni-Shambles?

The Sutherland School of Law is delighted to host the Society of Legal Scholars Annual Seminar 2019, which will take place in the School on the 29th and 30th of October, 2019. The seminar marks the eightieth anniversary of the enactment of Ireland's signature counter-terrorism legislation, the Offences Against the State Act 1939. The event will bring together a variety of historical and contemporary reflections on the 1939 Act, as amended, with practitioner and NGO perspectives in addition to academic analyses. In addition, the Irish legislative approach will be placed in its international context, through consideration of similar and contrasting approaches in other jurisdictions. The degree to which the Irish legislation accords with international human rights instruments will also be considered.

The seminar convenors are Dr Mark Coen of the Sutherland School of Law and Dr Fergal Davis of King's College London. The seminar is made possible by a grant from the Society of Legal Scholars.

Twenty places are available, and those interested in attending may apply here.  As places are limited, early application is advised. Those who are interested in these places should note that while attendance at the seminar is free, attendees will be responsible for their own travel, accommodation and other expenses.



Senator Ivana Bacik, Trinity College Dublin

Professor Liz Campbell, Monash University

Dr Mark Coen, University College Dublin

Dr Vicky Conway, Dublin City University

Dr Yvonne Daly, Dublin City University

Dr Fergal Davis, King’s College London

Professor Laura Donohoe, Georgetown University

Dr Alan Greene, University of Birmingham

Professor Claire Hamilton, Maynooth University

Alice Harrison BL

Dr Liz Heffernan, Trinity College Dublin

Mr Liam Herrick, Irish Council for Civil Liberties

Dr Niamh Howlin, University College Dublin

Dr Nicola McGarrity, University of New South Wales

Dr Tom Mohr, University College Dublin

Professor Clive Walker, University of Leeds



Tuesday 29 October 2019



Opening Remarks 

Dr Mark Coen

Professor Colin Scott, Principal UCD College of Social Sciences and Law


Keynote Address

Liam Herrick, Executive Director of the Irish Council For Liberties, “The Irish Council For Liberties and the Offences Against the State Acts


Coffee break


Part I Preliminary

Chair: Dr Fergal Davis

Dr Niamh Howlin, “The Victorian Prehistory of the Offences Against the State Act” 

Dr Thomas Mohr, “Emergency Precursors of the Offences Against the State Act in the Irish Free State” 




Part II Offences Against the State.

Chair: tbc

Dr Alan Greene, “States of Emergency and Offences Against the State”

Dr Liz Heffernan, "Threats to Security and Risks to Rights: 'Belief Evidence' under the Offences Against the State Act"'

Prof Laura Donohoe, “Speech Offences and the Offences Against the State Acts


Coffee break


Part III Unlawful Organisations

Chair: tbc

Prof Liz Campbell, “The Offences Against the State Act and Non-Paramilitary Offences”

Professor Clive Walker & Dr Fergal Davis, “Proscription in Ireland: let sleeping dogs lie?”


Drinks Reception



Wednesday 30 October 2019




Part IV– Offences Against the State in Context

Chair: Dr Niamh Howlin

Dr Vicky Conway, “Legal Assistance and Arrests under the Offences Against the State Acts” 

Dr Yvonne Daly, “The Offences Against the State Acts and International Human Rights”

Alice Harrison BL, "Disclosure and Privilege: The Dual Role of the Special Criminal Court" 


Coffee break


Part V Non-Jury Trial

Chair: Dr Thomas Mohr

Dr Mark Coen, “A Certain Ambivalence: official attitudes to jury trial in Ireland” 

Dr Nicola McGarity, “Trial Procedures in Response to the Threat of Terrorism: a comparative study”




Part VI  Impact 

Chair: Dr Mark Coen

Speaker: Professor Claire Hamilton, "'Contagion' between the special and the normal in criminal justice: a comparative perspective"

Speaker: Senator Ivana Bacik, Reid Professor of Criminal Law, Criminology and Penology at Trinity College Dublin, "The Offences Against the States Acts: reflections from legal practice and parliament"


Coffee break


Keynote Address



Closing Remarks
Dr Fergal Davis