Sunday 19 November 2017

Court martial hearing against Air Corps officer can proceed, High Court rules

Cdt Donohoe was due to be tried before a military court at McKee Barracks, Dublin, today
Cdt Donohoe was due to be tried before a military court at McKee Barracks, Dublin, today

The High Court has ruled a Court-Martial hearing against an Air Corps officer - who denies accusations of breaching military discipline - can proceed.

Mr Justice Seamus Noonan today declined to grant Commandant Nile (Niall) Donohoe (aged 52) permission to bring three sets of proceedings aimed at prohibiting his Court-Martial and that all charges pending against him be dismissed.

The judge found certain aspects of the case should have been brought earlier.  Other arguments as why the court-martial should not be allowed proceed were "without merit," he said.

Cdt Donohoe, who is facing charges arising out of an alleged exchange with a superior officer at Baldonnel in August 2007 was due to be tried before a military court at McKee Barracks, Dublin, today.

Last week, High Court proceedings were commenced against a number of parties including the Minister for Defence, Ireland and the Attorney General, Military Judge Col Micheal Campion, the Director of Military Prosecutions and the Defence Forces' Court Martial Administrator.

They had opposed Cdt Donohoe's application for permission to bring the actions, and argued the Court-Martial should be allowed go ahead. 

The action was brought on multiple grounds including there has been an inordinate, prejudicial and unjust delay by the prosecution in bringing the charges against Cdt Donohoe.

The delay, it was claimed, was deliberate in order to allow Cdt be tried under the Defence Force's Rules of Procedures, which were brought in 2008, and not older ones.

It was also argued the seven person Court-Martial board, or jury, made up of officers in the Defence Forces, was not properly constituted.

Mr Justice Noonan said he was not prepared to grant permission to bring proceedings against any of the parties on any of the grounds advanced on behalf of Cdt Donohoe. 

He said several complaints raised by Cdt Donohoe could be dealt with by the Military Judge in the normal course of the Court-Martial.

The judge also ruled that the application had not been brought within the allowed time limits, and should have been brought earlier.  

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