ICCL wades into political row over Special Criminal Court

Mr Mark Kelly, executive director of the ICCL
Mr Mark Kelly, executive director of the ICCL

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has waded into a growing row over proposals to scrap the juryless Special Criminal Court.

The civil liberties group said the court should not be turned into a “political football” during the Irish general election campaign.

Former justice secretary Alan Shatter fired an opening shot in the election campaign earlier this month when he criticised Sinn Féin’s election commitment to scrapping the juryless court as a condition of participation in government.

Mr Shatter said the court “has been absolutely crucial in ensuring the protection and preventing intimidation of jurors” in special cases.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams hit back that other administrations internationally were able to “deal with these issues and deal with criminality of this kind without recourse to special criminal courts”.

Tánaiste Joan Burton recently added her belief that the move “would disable our gardaí and have them fight crime with not just one hand behind their backs, but two hands behind their backs”.

Mr Mark Kelly, executive director of the ICCL, said: “The Special Criminal Court was an emergency court for a different era.

“On numerous occasions, the UN Human Rights Committee has called for it to be disbanded, as it creates a two-tier system of justice that has no place in a peacetime democracy.

“Politically posturing to appear tough on crime while electioneering is no substitute for respecting the rule of law by pledging to abolish this anachronistic tribunal.”

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