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Capital Punishment in Independent IrelandA Social, Legal and Political History$
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David M. Doyle and Liam O'Callaghan

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789620276

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789620276.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 17 April 2021

Women and the Death Penalty

Women and the Death Penalty

Chapter:
(p.101) Chapter 3 Women and the Death Penalty
Source:
Capital Punishment in Independent Ireland
Author(s):

David M. Doyle

Liam O’Callaghan

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789620276.003.0004

This chapter discusses the fate of women sentenced to death in independent Ireland. The majority of the women sentenced to death had killed babies and the judiciary and politicians instinctively looked upon them with pity. Death sentences in such cases were quickly commuted until 1949 when new legislation created the offence of infanticide which was dealt with much more leniently. A smaller number of women were convicted of killing adults and, as this chapter argues, their culpability was usually called into question by the patriarchal judicial and political establishment. In particular decision-makers deployed discourses around morality, sanity and social circumstances to make sense of the actions of this group of women, most of whom were impoverished and socially powerless. Thus with one notable exception – Annie Walsh, who was executed in 1926 – governments were minded to draw back from executing women and closely controlled their lives post-reprieve.

Keywords:   women, infanticide, morality, sanity, patriarchy

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