Staff List

Adjunct Professor: Judge Catherine McGuinness

Programme Director:Marie McGonagle

  • Dr. Conor Hanly: tel. 493390; conor.hanly@nuigalway.ie 
  • Dr. Padraic Kenna: tel. 493230; padraic.kenna@nuigalway.ie
  • Larry Donnelly: tel. 495372; larry.donnelly@nuigalway.ie
  • Dr. Mary Keys: tel. 493805; mary.keys@nuigalway.ie
  • Marie McGonagle: tel. 492179; marie.mcgonagle@nuigalway.ie (Programme Director)
  • Prof. Donncha O’Connell: tel. 492821; donncha.oconnell@nuigalway.ie
  • Tom O’Malley: tel. 492687; tom.omalley@nuigalway.ie
  • Shivaun Quinlivan: tel. 493842; shivaun.quinlivan@nuigalway.ie
  • Prof. Gerard Quinn: tel. 493014; gerard.quinn@nuigalway.ie
  • Charles O’Mahony: tel. 494015: c.omahony3@nuigalway.ie
  • Ciara Smyth: tel. 492937; ciara.m.smyth@nuigalway.ie

*From time to time, other members of staff offer courses on the LL.M. in Public Law. Students will be advised of any changes in the staff listing at induction sessions and/or in the programme guide.

Module information

Obligatory Courses

LW483 Advanced Legal Research and Methods  (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: Mr. Larry Donnelly

This course will build on the research skills already acquired by students in their primary law degree programmes. It will be closely linked with and designed to facilitate the writing components and the dissertation requirement of all students on the programme. The emphasis will be on practical exercises which will include elements of the following: textual analysis, database training, literature review, research presentation, abstract writing, report writing, research evaluation.

LW484 Law, Regulation and Policy (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: Dr. Laurent Pech

This foundation course will examine the role of law in the formulation and implementation of regulation and policy in various fields of the law.  The role of law in facilitating activities, in providing a framework and structure within which they can operate, and in establishing a basis for regulatory norms and practices, will be discussed. The role of regulatory bodies in devising regulation (goal setting, establishing criteria, engaging in consultation processes etc.) and implementing it (monitoring, compliance, adjudicating, advocacy, etc.) will be considered, as will various forms of regulation (regulation, co-regulation, self-regulation, etc.). The focus of the course will range from national to European (EU and Council Of Europe) and international level.  Topics may vary from year to year.

Optional Courses

Semester 1 Optional Courses (Full-time students must choose 2 courses; part-time students must choose 1 course)

Sentencing and Penal Policy (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: Mr. Tom O’Malley

This course begins with a detailed analysis of the moral justifications for punishment and their current relevance. This will be followed by a study of the historical development of selected penal practices and institutions, including imprisonment, probation and community based sanctions. The latter part of the course will concentrate on judicial sentencing practices, with particular emphasis on the general principles of sentencing developed by courts in common law jurisdictions, and on the strategies more recently adopted by governments and courts in other Western countries to structure sentencing discretion. Sentencing theory and policy has been enriched by contributions from many disciplines including philosophy, social theory, law and history. The reading required for this course will draw on all of those disciplines.

Communications Law (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: Ms. Marie McGonagle

This course focuses on the legal issues surrounding communications, particularly mass media, at a time of rapid technological, economic and social change. Advances in technology, have spawned new services and new platforms for delivery of content, have opened up new possibilities and markets for advertising, archiving and other methods of information storage and management. Convergence of technologies has led increasingly to convergence also of regulation and regulators. In this new environment, key questions facing regulators and policy-makers include how to accommodate technological and economic developments, how to safeguard democratic values and meet social objectives, ensure pluralism and diversity, and protect the citizen as citizen as well as consumer. The course will consider approaches to legal regulation and policy-making in the communications field.

Local Government Law ( 10 ECTS) 

Course co-ordinator: Dr. Padraic Kenna

This course will explore key areas of legal and institutional change within local government in Ireland. It will examine the theoretical, constitutional and legal background of local government and its role as an organ of the State in contemporary society. The historical development of the institution itself in the Republic of Ireland will be appraised. The operation of the Local Government Act 2001 and other recent law will be appraised within the representative, regulatory and service provision functions. Key transformations in the managerial and service delivery elements of local authorities will be evaluated. Important questions arise in the context of the obligations on local authorities under the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003, and the development of applicable tools for human rights proofing of local government policies and practices will inform a central aspect of the module. The role, outcomes and potential development of the Ombudsman’s Office in relations with local authorities will be analysed and evaluated, together with relevant legal developments.

Contemporary Issues in Law and Society (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: TBA

This module will examine contemporary issues of law and society at national and international level. The focus will be on the role of public law and public interest law in addressing problems and effecting change in society. As the emphasis is on contemporary issues, precise themes addressed may vary from year to year. The main theme for 2011-2012 was Children: the role of the State. The main theme for 2012-2013 is yet to be decided.

Activism, Advocacy and Public Interest Law (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: Mr. Donncha O’Connell

This module will examine the role of advocacy and the dynamics of activism in advancing diverse forms and aspects of "the public interest". In particular it will look at the advancement of the public interest through public interest law and litigation. Selected themes will be used to examine how the public interest, as understood broadly or by sectional interests, is advanced by recourse to public interest law. Practical concerns in the area of public interest litigation - such as locus standi, class and derivative actions and protective costs orders - will be discussed with a view to exploring the unrealised potential of public interest litigation in Ireland drawing on comparative experience in other jurisdictions. The module will also focus on the regulatory issues concerning non-governmental organisations, their relationship with the state, and selected themes, such as media reporting of public interest issues. There will be contributions from a diverse range of guest contributors including one or two small panels of speakers who will be invited to debate particular issues with participation by the class.  

Semester 2 Optional Courses (Full-time students must choose 2 courses; part- time students must choose 1 course)

Theories of Judicial Activism (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: Prof. Gerard Quinn

This course critically examines the role of the courts as agents of change within society. It explores the phenomenon of ‘judicial activism’ in Irish Constitutional law from a comparative perspective. Such activism is inherently suspect given the ambiguity of many important constitutional provisions to begin with and especially given the centrality of the legislature as the main democratic forum for addressing profound social and moral issues. The focus of our enquiry will be on competing theories concerning the legitimacy of activism as a process distinct from its result in any given case. The principal comparison will be with the United States and especially with the case law of the Warren Court. It will explore both conservative and liberal theories of activism and the possibility of mediating between the two through the concept of ‘public reason’. It will include an assessment of the contribution of various Irish and American judges as well as various theorists such as Oliver Wendell Holmes, Judge Cardozo, Herbert Wechlser, Alexander Bickel, Judge Skelly Wight, Bruce Ackerman, Robert Bork, and Ronald Dworkin among others.

Processes of Law Reform (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: Mr. Donncha O’Connell

This course examines the process of democratic law reform. It will look at how effective arguments for law reform can be made and the various interests that must be balanced in order to achieve sustainable and legitimate change.  It will explore the various mechanisms available to identify and prioritise particular law reform challenges in the public law sphere. Its scope will be comparative in nature and will look particularly at the role and critical success factors of law reform commissions worldwide. It will explore the parliamentary committee system and the link between parliamentary reform and the law reform process. It will consider the use of special government commissions as well as other public interest bodies such as equality bodies and human rights commissions.

The Criminal Jury (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: Dr. Conor Hanly (10 ECTS)

The purpose of this module is to consider differing methods of criminal adjudication in the common law.  The primary focus of the module will be on the criminal jury - its role, development and its strengths and weaknesses. The module will consider historical, contemporary and comparative materials. Through an examination of the development and principal characteristics of jury trial, we will consider the reasons for the decline since the nineteenth century of the jury as the principal dispositive mechanism in the criminal law.  We will also consider the implications of a structured system of plea-bargaining and juryless trials, and the benefits of trial by jury. Other issues such as jury nullification, the regulation of juries, representativeness of juries, and juror misconduct will be examined.  There will also be a critical examination of the jury reform in a number of common law jurisdictions including Ireland.  We will consider why in an age when jury trial is apparently in decline, there is a redoubling of efforts to reform it?  The module will be examined through a writing assignment and a moot court exercise.

Comparative Criminal Process (10 ECTS)

Course co-ordinator: Mr. Tom O’Malley

The emphasis in this course will be on the tensions and antinomies that contribute to the evolving nature of the criminal process. Courts and legislators must constantly seek to balance the competing demands of liberty and security, truth and fairness, process and outcome. This course will examine the manner in which these enduring dilemmas are resolved through a detailed and comparative study of certain key issues in criminal justice, including the admissibility of improperly obtained evidence, the prosecution function, disclosure, pre-trial publicity, the role of the jury and the corrective role of the appeal courts. The materials covered will be mainly legal in nature and will be drawn from Ireland and other common law jurisdictions and, to a significant extent, from the jurisprudence of the European Court of Human Rights.

Disability Law: Contemporary Law Reform Challenges in the National and International Sphere (10 ECTS)

N.B. This module will not be offered in 2012-2013.

Course co-ordinator: Dr. Mary Keys

The purpose of this course is to explore the key challenges facing the process of disability law reform that is underway worldwide as well as in Ireland. Effectively, this is a law reform process that seeks to accommodate human difference and is premised on the inherent equality of all persons and a rejection of the ‘separate but equal’ segregationist doctrine. It is taking place in fields as diverse as mental health, civil commitment, incapacity law, education law, employment law, housing law, etc.   The course will look at a shifting menu of contemporary issues such as the drafting of the UN treaty on the rights and dignity of persons with disabilities, the growing relevance of EU anti-discrimination law, relevant Council of Europe instruments and the relevance of the ‘rights-based’ approach to service delivery.

Equality Law: Principles and Thematic Application (10 ECTS) 

N.B. This module will not be offered in 2012-2013.

Course co-ordinator: TBC

This course will examine the theoretical foundations of non-discrimination and equality law and trace the evolution of equality principles in International Human Rights Law, European Law and Irish Law. The transformative potential of equality legislation as an instrument of social change, as a theory of equality will be explored critically. In weeks 6-12 students can choose (from the following list) gender equality, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity. 

Immigration Law: between sovereignty and equality (10 ECTS)

Course Co-ordinator: Ms. Ciara Smyth

This course examines the burgeoning area of immigration law and policy.  Immigration law has a multi-level structure, covering domestic law, EU law and public international law (notably human rights and refugee law).  The course explores how these levels interact.  In particular, it investigates how the concept of State sovereignty, whereby States are free to control immigration, has been curtailed by the ceding of soveriegnty to the EU as the latter has developed competence in the areas of immigration and asylum.  It also explores the extent to which domestic and EU immigration law are curtailed by international human rights law which require that everyone - regardless of legal status - is entitled to certain minimuOptional Courses -  Semester 2: (Full-time students must choose 2 courses; part- time students must choose 1 course)

Dissertation/Minor thesis (30 ECTS)

Students will also be required to prepare and submit a 15,000 word thesis on a topic related to an area of the course; topics to be selected in consultation with the lecturer(s) in the relevant area.