Saturday 10 December 2016

Ross defends vote against Special Criminal Court

Published 09/02/2016 | 02:30

Shane Ross. Photo: Tom Burke
Shane Ross. Photo: Tom Burke

Independent TD Shane Ross has said it is "ludicrous" to suggest that he opposes the use of the Special Criminal Court despite the Dáil record showing he voted against it last year.

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The Dublin Rathdown candidate has described himself as "probably one of the strongest supporters of the Special Criminal Court in the Oireachtas".

He told the Irish Independent he opposed the legislation because the Government stifled debate on the issue.

Each year the Oireachtas has to sanction laws which govern the court, with the most recent vote last June being passed by 86 to 24. Some 56 members of the Dáil missed the vote.

"There was no discussion. It was guillotined but it's absurd to suggest I'm against the Special Criminal Court," he said.

"I voted against it because I wanted a discussion on it but they only allowed an hour and 15 minutes."

A number of Mr Ross's colleagues in the Independent Alliance also opposed section 8 of the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, as did co-leader of the Social Democrats, Catherine Murphy.

She said: "I don't like it being rubber-stamped. It's brought before the Dáil every year. At the very least we should examine how our courts are working.

"There were cases where people are threatened but they should be few and far between."

Independent Alliance TDs Finian McGrath, Michael Fitzmaurice and John Halligan all said they object to the court.

Mr McGrath said he strongly supports the view of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties which opposes the court.

"I do accept the point that we have to do something about these gangs. We need more undercover surveillance on these guys," he added.

Mr Halligan said: "My view on it is that while it is necessary to deal with criminality and gangs, we should be able to protect jurors.

"A judge and jury is the way to deal with it in a democracy."

Mr Fitzmaurice said: "It was brought in as a result of events in the North when there was a need because jurors were being gotten to. I think we've moved a bit on from there, thank God," he said.

Independent TD Thomas Pringle, who is not part of the Alliance, said he is "on the side of human rights" and the court is opposed by human rights' groups.

Irish Independent

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