Skip to main content

Jury intimidation figures reveal continued need for Special Criminal Court – Carroll MacNeill

30th October 2021 - Jennifer Carroll MacNeill, TD

While Sinn Féin believe there is “no place” for the Special Criminal Court, high levels of jury intimidation and gangland terror illustrate exactly why we need to protect the place of the Court within our judicial system, a Fine Gael TD has said.

Deputy Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said, “Sinn Féin might not recognise the need for the Special Criminal Court, but the continued jury intimidation over the past ten years makes the need for the Court clear as day.

“Figures from the Department of Justice reveal that from 2011 to 2021, there have been 92 convictions from 343 proceedings regarding jury intimidation or interference. Convictions have been particularly high over the past three years, with the 2019 and 2020 figures the highest since 2011.

“This level of intimidation has knock-on implications for our Courts and interferes with the running of our justice system. Just over a decade ago, we saw only one in five people called for jury service in Limerick trials turning up due to fear of intimidation. The role of the Special Criminal Court is to protect our citizens in cases of intimidation and interference.

“The need to retain the Court has also been extolled by members of An Garda Síochána who are on the front lines in our fight against gangland crime. The Court has allowed for the speedy prosecution of cartel hit teams. Removing these criminals from our streets has significantly reduced murders and efficiently tackles gangland crime.

“Fine Gael supports the renewal of the Offences Against the State Acts and the Special Criminal Courts. However, due to the particular significance of the Special Criminal Court, both regular monitoring and reviews of the Court are needed to ensure it continues to function in an appropriate and effective way.  The Oireachtas continuously monitors its functioning, and debates and votes on it on an annual basis. A review of the Offences Against the State Act is also currently being led by Mr Justice Michael Peart, former Judge of the Court of Appeal – which I very much welcome and believe is necessary

“We’ve seen Sinn Féin’s complete lack of respect for protecting our jurors and disregard for even engaging on this issue. During the Summer, Sinn Féin had their chance to vote for the Special Criminal Court but chose to walk out of the Dáil. Rather than using their privilege as TDs to participate, they left the room and simply abstained from voting.

“Sinn Féin’s motion and comments make it clear that Deputy McDonald will lead her TDs on more walkouts when the Dáil votes again on the Special Criminal Court next year and in future years.

“Sinn Féin are spinning a false narrative about the Special Criminal Court. On one hand, they don’t envisage any place within our judicial system for the Court, yet just this morning Deputy McDonald expressed her support for a non-jury court in exceptional circumstances. One thing needs to be made very clear on this issue; the Special Criminal Court is only ever used in exceptional circumstances.

“It is used to protect citizens in gangland and terrorist trials. It is used to take criminals off our streets. It is used to tackle drug cartels. And most importantly, it is used to protect lives,” concluded Deputy Carroll MacNeill.

Stay Up To Date With Fine Gael