Belfast Telegraph

SF criticism of non-jury courts deeply concerning: Flanagan

By Kevin Doyle

Irish justice minister Charlie Flanagan has questioned the "true motivations" of Sinn Fein after the party called for the end of non-jury trials for people facing terrorism charges.

It has been the long-standing policy of Mary Lou McDonald’s party that the Special Criminal Court in Dublin should be abolished.

But Mr Flanagan told the Dail last night that the “toxic legacy” of the Provisional IRA is a “rump of violent dissident republican who vehemently oppose peace and democracy”.

“I’m determined that these terrorists will not succeed — the bullet will not prevail over the ballot box,” he said.

The minister said there is a “close relationship between terrorist groups and serious crime gangs — indeed sometimes, they are indistinguishable from one another”.

He was speaking in response to Sinn Fein’s justice spokesman Donnchadh O Laoghaire who criticised non-jury courts.

He said his party recognise there are circumstances where it is proportionate to provide the anonymity of jurors.

“This can be done by screens in courtroom or in very specific circumstances where required by remote location of jurors with video links to courtrooms,” he said.

But Mr Flanagan said he was “deeply concerned” by the attempt to “undermine the Special Criminal Court”.

“The reason a Special Criminal Court exists is because of the threat to jurors’ lives posed by the most violent and dangerous criminals in the State.

“The judges that serve on the court perform courageous public service, presiding without fear or favour, over the prosecution of some of the most dangerous terrorists and ruthless criminals in the State,” he said.

The present Special Criminal Court was established in 1972 and comprises three judges of the ordinary courts — usually one High Court judge, one Circuit Court Judge and a District Court Judge.

Belfast Telegraph

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