Law preventing begging struck down

Thursday 15 March 2007 22.14
High Court - Vagrancy Act challenge
High Court - Vagrancy Act challenge

The law preventing begging has been struck down by the High Court.

A young Dublin man charged with begging on Parliament Street in the city more than three years ago challenged Section 3 of the nineteenth century Vagrancy Act.

Niall Dillon claimed Section 3 of the act breached his constitutional right to freedom of expression and his right to communicate.

Mr Justice Eamon De Valera rejected his argument that it discriminated between rich and poor.

But the judge found that the section was unconstitutional because it interfered with the constitutional right of freedom of expression and freedom to communicate with other people.

The legislation has been struck down and Mr Dillon's prosecution will not now go ahead.

Section 3 of the Vagrancy (Ireland) Act of 1847 provides that anyone begging or placing himself in any public place, street, highway, court or passage to beg or gather alms, commits an offence punishable by a maximum sentence of one month in prison.

The act was introduced at the height of the Great Famine.