Ahern reassures jurors of safety amid probe into security breach
JUSTICE Minister Dermot Ahern night expressed his deep concern after names and addresses of jurors involved in a murder trial were found at the home of the girlfriend of the criminal at the centre of the case.
A spokesman for the minister insisted gardai would ensure that anyone undertaking jury duty would be protected and assured of the "utmost safety".
He revealed the non-jury special criminal court could be used to deal with gangland criminals where there were concerns about the intimidation of jurors.
Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy is to probe how the list found its way into the home of Natasha McEnroe, the partner of criminal Brian Rattigan.
Rattigan was found guilty last year of the 2001 murder of Declan Gavin, who was stabbed to death outside a fast-food outlet in Crumlin.
It was the first murder in the so-called Crumlin-Drimnagh feud, which has claimed the lives of 16 people so far.
Under the 1976 Juries Act, only defence lawyers, the prosecution, gardai and the courts service are allowed to possess jury lists.
But when Ms McEnroe's apartment in Adamstown was raided by gardai last Wednesday the jury list was uncovered along with other confidential gardai files. This is the first known case where the names and addresses of jurors in such a high-profile trial have been discovered in such circumstances.
"It is of deep concern to the minister that such a thing would happen," a spokesman for Mr Ahern said last night.
"The garda commissioner is investigating the background to this situation. The gardai will ensure that anyone who is on jury duty is provided with the utmost safety," he added.
The minister's spokesman insisted that those engaging in gangland crime would face the rigours of the law. He said this may mean using the provision of non-jury courts to prevent jury intimidation.
"It is important to have the special criminal court on the statute books," he said. "The minister did not take any pleasure in bringing in this measure and at the time he was accused of being too tough.
"The criminal justice system will protect those on jury duty. Where it is feared there is juror intimidation we will have to use the special criminal court."
Fine Gael justice spokesman Charlie Flanagan insisted only the names of jurors should be provided on the list.
"What has emerged is a sinister development and requires an urgent review," he said.
"There is no reason why the addresses of jury should be on that list."