The former president of the High Court, Justice Richard Johnson, has called for a referendum to reintroduce the recently abolished death penalty in Ireland.
“The Government should look at it. Then if the people want it, they should have it," Johnson said.
The last Irish state execution took place in 1954. The death penalty was abolished in 1990 and removed from the Irish Constitution in 2001 in conjunction with a referendum on the European Union Nice Treaty.
In 2001, 62 percent of Irish voters voted in favor of abolishing the death penalty.
But as violent crime in Ireland increases, the ex-judge believes that bringing back the death penalty may deter serious violence in a society that has little respect for people. He points to the effect it had on past generations.
“When I was growing up, if a murder took place there were headlines in the press for a week. Now, no one notices. Murder is no longer shocking anybody. People have far less respect for each other than they used to,” he said.
Blaming the media for desensitizing violence and sex in the mainstream, he says that “We’re becoming unshockable.”
Johnson also said that the death penalty should be only used for certain crimes and that it was not always a foolproof method of punishment, as mistakes have been made in the past.
“I am not totally in favor of it. But it should be revisited. It would have to be for specific offenses. If people arm up and go out to rob and decide to take out anyone who gets in their way, they should pay the price. It should be a matter for each individual case,” he said.
Speaking about wrong convictions and the possibility of wrongfully punishing innocents, the ex-judge added, “If the death penalty existed in Britain the Birmingham Six would have been executed.”
There is little likelihood that a referendum for the death penalty in Ireland will take place again. The abolition of the death penalty is a condition for EU membership and is currently a hurdle that Turkey is struggling with as it makes an attempt to join the EU.