The Jury Is Still Out


Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan

This afternoon.

TDs are discussing the renewal of the Offences Against the State Act and the Criminal Justice Act 2009 in the Dáil.

The Minister for Justice has said work is ongoing in his department to bring forward a review of emergency laws aimed at tackling terrorism and the Offences Against the State Act will be part of that review.

Minister Flanagan said there remains a real and persistent threat from “Republican paramilitary organisations” on the island of Ireland….


Catherine Murphy

“Last year, Minister Flanagan himself said: “We all look forward to the day when the Special Criminal Court is no longer needed, but regrettably we are not there yet”

But isn’t that the point? If we don’t make moves now to ensure we get to the stage where it is no longer needed then every year we and those who come after us will be asked to walk in here and vote to extend its powers. That’s not good enough.

The challenge now is to equip our ordinary courts in a way that allows them to administer transparent justice safely and securely for all involved in proceedings.

Such a basic tenet of a civilised society should not be outside of our capabilities and that is why the amendment tabled by the Social Democrats today allows for a 5 year time-frame to phase out this archaic institution and replace it with a transparent system of justice.”

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy.


Pa Daly

“Military courts were introduced in Ireland in 1939 and expanded in controversial circumstances in 1972. The Government asserted, as it was required to do under the Constitution, that the ordinary courts were ineffective to secure the proper administration of justice. The bogeyman of jury intimidation was raised.

Jury intimidation is the Irish criminal justice system’s equivalent to weapons of mass destruction. It is very easy to raise the issue, but where is the evidence for it? Is it in any of these reports? Has it ever been mentioned? Most of the Limerick gangland cases and many of the Crumlin and Drimnagh gang cases were dealt with by juries.

Is there any evidence of intimidation leading a jury to acquit somebody? I have not seen it. If there was any evidence of jury intimidation, it could form part of the proposed review, but there does not seem to be any.”

Sinn Féin TD Pa Daly.


Justice Minister announces review of anti-terror laws (RTÉ)

26 thoughts on “The Jury Is Still Out

  1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

    Well Pa Daly, try the Kieran Keane murder trial in Limerick, 2003. Of the 729 potential jurors called, 12 could not be found to serve, citing that they were afraid to do so.
    That’s pretty measurable intimidation.

      1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

        Because people in Dublin cannot be got at from Limerick.
        When the trial was moved to Cloverhill, three of the 12 jurors were excused out of fear, and witnesses where threatened with their lives.

        1. steve white

          a lot of people would be nervous about deciding a persons fate in any kind of serious trial.

          1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

            That’s 98.5% of people being too afraid to participate in the justice system in this example then.
            Good case for some kind of special criminal court there.

  2. Gabby

    Jury intimidation nowadays does not come mainly from people with paramilitary connections. It has come from members and associates of criminal gangs involved in illicit drugs and other forms of trade. The General in the 1970s wasn’t a paramilitary, but when he learned the name of a civil servant who had given evidence about him in an investigation, he went to his modest suburban home and physically damaged him for life. There have been recent reports of intimidation against individuals and homes by other individuals who disagree violently with their policies. If the Dail voted to phase out the Offences against the State Act over a five-year period, what effective measures could be taken to safeguard innocent individuals against menace?

  3. Joe Small

    I’m not sure Sinn Féin are in much of a position to preach about special courts given so many of their members and supporters have been guests before them. I’m sure we’ll see Sinn Féin in government soon enough but it might be a while before there’ll be a Sinn Féin mMnister for Justice.

    1. Gringo

      When a few thieving bankers are brought before the Special Criminal Court, the calls to abolish it will be deafening.

  4. Niall

    I seem to remember that there was witness intimidation during the trial of the murderers of Jerry Mc Cabe. Funny that it seems to have slipped Pa Daly’s mind especially as he is a solicitor from that neck of the woods.

    1. PDaly

      Niall, it didn’t slip my mind at all. Witness intimidation is a totally different issue. That was not relevant to today’s debate

      1. Rob_G

        First, thanks for taking the time to come on the thread to discuss, Pa.

        Theo gave an example there above of jury intimidation.

        1. Johnny

 desperate…this was yesterday from Rob..don’t waste your time Pa and get back work:)

          “Those of his niece, or Mairia Cahill, or any of the people his organisation murdered – not so much.

          Nor, indeed, of those whose lives were destroyed by the drugs sold in Dublin’s inner city with the acquiescence of his cronies, who enriched themselves on this human misery.”

          “I find it peculiar that people would become so fixated over Gerry Adams’ single (though no less regrettable) use of a racial epithet; it would be like splitting hairs over Jeffrey Dahmer getting a speeding ticket”

          1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

            When you’re finished rubbishing Rob_G, and not the instance of jury intimidation we refer to, be sure and have a go at me too Johnny.

          2. Johnny

            Yesterday and most days Rob’s ranting and raving about SF and rape and incest and murdering-today its oh hi thanks for commenting I was wondering-thanks on behalf of who-he’s trying entrap Pa-its just trolling or entrapment!

          3. Johnny

            I never sat on a jury trial in Ireland but I was a witness at a corners inquest so I know all about witness intimidation first hand….if it makes any difference I had no confidence in the Guards keeping me safe none at all, which is really the issue not criminals and certainly not a bunch low intelligence travelers high on meth and crack.

      2. Cian

        The latest research, […], found that while jury interference was not widespread, “it was nevertheless regarded by interviewees as a known feature of a small number of Irish jury trials”.

        Researchers conducted anonymous interviews with 22 judges and 11 barristers about the role of the judiciary and the jury system in criminal trials.

        None of the judges questioned about jury intimidation or interference said they had personally witnessed it in their trials, put several reported hearing about it from colleagues. Three of the 11 barristers reported encountering the issue.

        1. Johnny

 certainly goes on regarding corners inquests – after witnessing a murder – before i’d even given a statement I was receiving threats-anyway another tread as this is about juries-but it goes on for witness at corners inquests…naturally enough the Guards kicked off the statement part by asking me to say out loud my name and address-while surrounded by the perps associates at the scene…..

          …I turned up for court and had walk through the accused associates shoutin and roaring abuse outside in their cheap trainers and tracksuits….we goin get you…shut the f up…you saw NOTHIN…..we know where you live….shorty after I emigrated to America:)

          …thanks Blueshirts….

  5. White Dove

    Thanks for highlighting this. There is a very real danger of State infringement of civil liberties in the current climate.

  6. Help

    A state run by those ready to kill to get what they want is never acceptable in a democracy
    Maybe when I die

  7. RuilleBuille

    Witness intimidation is the major problem the Gardai have not jury intimidation.

  8. Vanessanelle

    And still no plan or alternative to deal with the Special Criminal Court

    They love having this debate
    They really do
    they all get to flaunt their issues with it

    Sinn Fein – same as my own, btw, the bar for evidence mainly
    FG – Law and Order and those pesky gangs and career criminals
    SD – now at least Catherine Murphy is introducing some sense by referring to the other Courts that are available to deal with SOME of these crimes, and the need of access and transparency
    FF – whatever Leo tells them
    All the others, meh, depends on the weather

    1. A Person

      Pa have you ever served on a jury and suffered intimidation from the supporters of the accused. i have – it was awful, and not just drug runners, common criminals, but rapists. Eff them, let the courts decide as opposed to “we need our rights to be maintained, whilst we shoot and rape”. If you are innocent, what is the problem?

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