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Review ordered into Special Criminal Court laws used in dissident republican and gangland criminal trials

Former Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan had previoulsy committed to the review of the laws.

Image: RollingNews.ie

AN EXPERT GROUP has been set up to review of the Offences Against the State Acts which has been used in trials of dissident republicans and gangland criminals in a three-judge criminal court that has no jury.

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee appointed a group of six experts to review the legislation, which will be chaired by Mr Justice Michael Peart, a former Judge of the Court of Appeal.

Former Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan had previously committed to the review of the laws.

Speaking today, McEntee said the Offences Against the State Acts” have been a vital component in our response to the anti-democratic and criminal forces that have sought to undermine the integrity of our State through violence and intimidation”. 

“I am firmly of the view that the Offences Against the State Acts and Special Criminal Court have served the State well in tackling subversives and organised crime gangs and have long been a necessary part of the State’s arsenal in this regard.

“However, it is important to occasionally review the operation of our important legislation,” she said. 

Concerns about legislation, which aims to prevent any potential intimidation of jury members, have been raised over the years, with Sinn Féin calling for a review of the legislation, and frequently abstaining on votes for its extension every six months 

McEntee said today that an independent review was previously published in August 2002 by a committee under the chairmanship of former Supreme Court Judge, the late Mr Justice Anthony Hederman.

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However, she said the new review “is timely and will complement the advanced work in my Department to deliver on the Programme for Government commitments regarding the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland”.

The group will give an interim report to government within three months. 

 

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