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18 September 2014
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Wars and Conflict - The Plantation of Ulster

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Brehon law supported restorative justice
- Prof. Fergus Kelly

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Brehon law - it’s a very intelligent system: in many of the texts, legal problems are treated in a beautifully elegant and refined manner. But of course there would be things that they would object to - the inequality of man; also the use of single combat to decide various legal issues -that wouldn’t go down too well; the use of ordeals by boiling water or by hot iron to decide whether someone was innocent or guilty - Amnesty International would not like that, although it is to be found in many medieval legal systems. On the plus side, the idea that if you injure somebody illegally you are responsible for nursing him or her back to health (restorative justice), is a very attractive concept and one which is being revived in recent times in modern legal systems. It means that you don’t just pay a heavy fine and forget about your victim: you are responsible for arranging for medical supervision and you are able to, you have to see that your victim is nursed back to health, and you have to pay for any permanent injury or disability.

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