asked the Minister for Justice if he is aware that a woman stenographer was assigned to report officially the proceedings of the Special Criminal Court on October 9th; whether on that occasion the business before the court included the passing of the death sentence on an accused person; whether women civil servants are assigned for work of this nature with his knowledge and approval; and, if not, whether he is prepared to issue instructions forbidding their employment as reporters in any case where persons are charged with serious offences.
Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Reports of Special Criminal Court.
All the proceedings of the Special Criminal Court, since its institution, including the trial of many very serious offences, have been reported by two women verbatim reporters, both civil servants. The arrangement has worked very well and I would be reluctant to disturb it except in the event, which has not yet occurred, of cases of an indecent nature. I may perhaps point out that women are entitled to be present at all trials as barristers, solicitors and journalists and I do not see any logical reason for making an exception in the case of official stenographers.
I hope the Minister does not mean to convey by implication that ordinary citizens may not attend public trials in this country. I understand that in addition to women barristers and official persons ordinary women citizens of this State are entitled to attend public trials?
I said so — as visitors.
I thought the Minister confined his remarks to women officials.
I merely pointed out that it was the practice for women to go to public trials and to act as barristers and, consequently, I was not going to interfere with the arrangement.
It is the right of all citizens to attend public trials.