SF hits back at criticism over plan to scrap Special Criminal Court

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has hit back at criticism of his party’s plans to scrap the juryless Special Criminal Court, saying that a witness protection scheme would address safety concerns in terror cases.

Former justice secretary Alan Shatter had claimed scrapping the court would put jurors in danger.

He said the Special Criminal Court “has been absolutely crucial in ensuring the protection and preventing intimidation of jurors”.

Mr Adams told The Times that other countries succeeded in prosecuting those kind of cases without a juryless court.

He said: “Other administrations deal with these issues and deal with criminality of this kind without recourse to special criminal courts.

“You put in normal laws that are based on justice and then when there are special threats to anyone involved – witnesses or jurors – you bring in the type of measures which have worked well in other administrations but still allow a person to be tried by a jury of their peers.”

A spokesperson for Sinn Féin added: “Juries must of course be protected in carrying out their work and this can be achieved in a number of ways including having an anonymous jury, screening the jury from public view, protecting the jury during the trial, or locating the jury in a different place from where the trial is being held with communication by video link.

“Many states hear difficult cases without removing the right to a jury trial.”

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