Saturday 20 January 2018

High Court judge says he is 'increasingly pessimistic' that a second Special Criminal Court will be set up

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Daniel Hickey

A High Court judge has today said he is "increasingly pessimistic" that a second Special Criminal Court, the establishment of which was announced by the Government last October, will be set up.

Mr Justice Paul Butler made the comments this morning during an adjournment in the case of two Mayo brothers 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 Oglaigh na hEireann, otherwise the Irish Republican Army, otherwise the IRA on June 9, 2012.

They 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 today at the three-judge, non-jury court, Mr Justice Paul Butler said that he is "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 and sole incarnation.

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

Legislation for the establishment of a second court was already in existence but had never been brought into play despite an increasing case load 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 26th, when a trial date may be fixed. 

Mr Justice Butler added that he was "extremely doubtful" a date for trial would be fixed on that date.

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