Monday 23 January 2017

Judge 'pessimistic' on setting up of second Special Criminal Court

Daniel Hickey

Published 20/01/2016 | 02:30

Legislation for the establishment of a second court was already in existence but had never been brought into play. Stock picture
Legislation for the establishment of a second court was already in existence but had never been brought into play. Stock picture

A High Court judge has said he is "increasingly pessimistic" that a second Special Criminal Court will ever be set up.

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The establishment of the court was promised by the Government last October.

Mr Justice Paul Butler made the comments yesterday during an adjournment in the case of two brothers from Co Mayo who were arrested on alleged explosives and IRA membership offences.

Colin Mannion (33) and his brother Brian Mannion (31), of Burriscarra, Clogher, Claremorris, are both charged with membership of an unlawful organisation within the State, namely Óglaigh na hÉireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on June 9, 2012.

The two brothers are also charged with the unlawful possession of explosive substances RDX, PETN, one loaded detonator, two unloaded detonators and three electrical component parts at their home on the same date.

Presiding yesterday at the three-judge, non-jury court, Mr Justice Butler said he was "increasingly pessimistic" a second Special Criminal Court would be established.

The court previously heard that a second Special Criminal Court may be established to deal with the backlog of cases in the court's current sole incarnation.

In October, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald confirmed the establishment of a second court after expressing concern about delays of almost two years in cases coming to trial at the Special Criminal Court.

Legislation for the establishment of a second court was already in existence but had never been brought into play. This was despite an increasing caseload due to dissident republican activity. Seven serving judges were appointed to the bench of the new court.

The Mannion brothers' case was listed for mention again on January 26, when a trial date may be fixed.

However Mr Justice Butler told the brothers and their legal representatives that he was "extremely doubtful" a date for trial would be fixed when the case is mentioned on that date.

Irish Independent

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