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Report No. 99

3.17. Irish practice.-

In recent years, the Irish Supreme Court has shown readiness to accept sociological evidence. In 1965, for instance, the Court examined numerous scientific reports and. reviewed the testimony of medical experts to sustain the constitutionality of a national statute requiring localities to fluoridate public drinking water. The Chief Justice candidly admitted the difficulties that judges face when confronted by expanding-and changing-content of scientific knowledge.1

This is what he stated, "These are not matters which are presumed to be within the knowledge of the Court, and, accordingly, the unconstitutionlity of the Act, if it be unconstitutional, cannot be determined except by reference to the particular evidence which is furnished in the case. Since evidence may differ from case to case and as scientific knowledge may increase and the views of scientists alter, the Court's determination cannot amount to more than a decision that on the evidence produced the plaintiff has, or has not, discharged the onus of demonstrating that the Act is unconstitutional."

1. Murphy and Pritchett Courts, Judges and Politics, 2nd Edn., p. 352.

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