Gardaí told they have ‘misunderstood’ search powers

Gardaí told they have 'misunderstood' search powers

Gardaí have consistently misunderstood their powers to search suspected dissident republicans without a warrant, according to a ruling in the Special Criminal Court.

The court has thrown out evidence in the trial of a man accused of smuggling an IRA communiqué out of Portlaoise Prison because gardaí did not seek permission to search his car.

The Belfast Telegraph reports that the move could open up appeals by dissident republicans who have been convicted on such evidence.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt said gardaí did not understood their powers under the Offences Against the State Act 1939, ruling: “The court cannot ignore a substantial, persistent and general incorrect assumption as to the nature and content of the provisions in question.”

He said the mistake was not “of momentary nature” and was not “a minor detail or because of stress or pressure of the moment”.

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