Belfast Telegraph

Legal experts warn of court chaos arising from tapes

By Dearbhail McDonald

Legal experts have warned that criminal and civil litigation arising out of the garda tapes controversy could "swamp the courts for years to come".

It is believed that some of the Republic's major criminal law firms have already issued letters to the Director of Public Prosecutions, seeking clarification on whether phone calls involving clients in live and pending cases were taped.

It comes after the Special Criminal Court yesterday adjourned a trial against two men accused of IRA membership in what is understood to be the first court case affected by the phone-taping revelations.

The accused – Thomas McMahon (31) and Noel Noonan (34) – want to know if phone calls they had with their solicitors whilst in garda detention were recorded.

Counsel for Mr McMahon said the matter "may well have consequences" for the case.

Counsel for Mr Noonan, Mr Anthony Sammon SC, made a similar request for disclosure from the prosecution. He agreed with Judge Butler that his client had consulted with his solicitor by telephone and that he was subsequently interviewed. The Special Criminal Court adjourned the case until today.

Dara Robinson, partner in Sheehan and Partners solicitors, said that the emergence of revelations as to garda recording of phone calls to and from garda stations was simply staggering.

Meanwhile, a major review of current and past cases is under way at some of the Republic's top criminal law firms.

Convicted persons who were jailed, as well as suspects who were arrested but not charged, are among those seeking an immediate review of their cases.

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