Bar Council defends Catholic judges after ‘traitors’ accusation

Gerry McAlinden QC, chair of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland
Gerry McAlinden QC, chair of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland

Gerry McAlinden QC, chair of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland, has mounted a fierce defence of the judiciary in the pages of the Belfast News Letter.

Mr McAlinden wrote to the newspaper in condemnation of ex-IRA man Gerry McGeough, who told a radio show over the weekend that Catholic judges and prosecutors in Northern Ireland are “traitors” and “collaborators”.

Responding to the charge, Mr McAlinden wrote: “I wish to take this opportunity to utterly condemn the threats made by Gerry McGeough over the past weekend as reported in the News Letter on Monday August 8, in which he stated that Catholics serving as judges and prosecutors in the Northern Ireland legal system are ‘traitors’ who will be dealt with as ‘collaborators’ once the English are removed.

“An independent, impartial judiciary and independent, impartial prosecuting counsel play a fundamental role in the maintenance of the rule of law and the protection of rights of all citizens in a free and democratic society.

“It is vitally important that the judiciary and prosecution counsel are drawn from all sections of society, irrespective of perceived or actual religious or political background. Once those individuals are appointed and take up those important roles they are sworn to impartially, fearlessly and fairly perform those roles for the benefit of our society as a whole and they invariably live up to their oaths. Impartial and dedicated judges and prosecutors uphold the law and provide justice for victims and the community, and they should be allowed to work without fear or threat.

“Any attempt to intimidate members of the judiciary or members of the legal profession engaged in prosecution work is to be deplored by all right thinking members of society.

“These sinister messages were a frequent part of our troubled past. They were wrong then and are wrong now.”

Paul Frew, chair of the Northern Ireland Assembly’s justice committee, added on Twitter: “As Chairman of the Justice Committee I support and agree with Gerry McAlinden QC 100%.”