Gangland laws at centre of court challenge
A CHALLENGE against the constitutionality of certain parts of the state's anti-gangland legislation has come before the High Court.
The challenge is against provisions of the 2007 Criminal Justice Act that allow for the exclusion of an arrested person and their legal representatives from a courtroom when gardai make an application to extend the time of that person's detention.
The action has been brought by a man who was arrested and held by gardai for several days as part of the investigation into the murder of Christy Daly. The man has not been charged with any criminal offense in connection with Mr Daly's killing.
Mr Daly's body was discovered in a drain at Bog Road, Kilbride, Clara on January 7, 2014. A post mortem found the 47-year-old father-of-six had been shot several times in the upper body. Gardai believe he was murdered on December 29, 2013.
Moving the application at the High Court, barrister Micheal O'Higgins SC, for the man, said his client was arrested and detained for questioning in respect of the offence of Mr Daly's murder at Tullamore Garda Station on May 14 last.
The period of his detention was extended until May 19 when a further extension was sought by the gardai. This application, which was made before a District Court judge, was opposed by the man's legal representation.
Under section 50 of the 2007 Criminal Justice Act, the district judge hearing the case made a ruling excluding the man and his solicitor during the application. The judge extended the period of detention for a further 24 hours. The man was subsequently released but no charges have been brought against him, counsel said.
Counsel said the provision challenged is "an impermissible interference" with a detained person's rights to be legally represented at a court hearing that directly affects them and their right to a fair trial.
He also seeks an order quashing the District Judge's decision to exclude the man and his legal representative from the courtroom when an application was made by the gardai to extend the period of his detention.
The man further seeks damages for he claims are a breach of his constitutional rights and false imprisonment.
Permission to bring the action was granted, on an ex parte basis, by Ms Justice Iseult O'Malley. The matter will return before the High Court later this year.