By Elaine Loughlin, political reporter
Gerry Adams has appeared to suggest that jurors could be put into witness protection under Sinn Fein’s proposals to abolish the Special Criminal Court.
Getting rid of the juryless court which was set up to deal with terrorism and serious organised crime cases is a one of Sinn Féin’s key election promises.
The party have also been critical of the use of the court to try republican Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy who was convicted of tax evasion.
But speaking today Mr Adams could not provide concrete details on what system would be put in place if the court was abolished.
Asked specifically if he would put jury members who are carrying out their civic duty into witness protection he said: “There are measures that can be used to deal with all of that”.
He added: “What we are saying is there is no need for what was brought in as so-called emergency legislation 40 years ago and which has not basis in natural law.
“You put in normal laws that are based on justice and then where there are special threats to anyone involved, witnesses or jurors you bring in the type of measures that have worked quite well in other administrations but still allow a person to be tried by a jury of their peers.”
Afterwards a Sinn Féin spokesman moved to clarify the party’s position by claiming that there are a number of ways in which juries can be protected from intimidation.
“Juries must of course be protected in carrying out their work and this can be achieved in a number of ways including having an anonymous jury, screening the jury from public view, protecting the jury during the trial, or locating the jury in a different place from where the trial is being held with communication by video link.
“Many states hear difficult cases without removing the right to an a jury trial,” the spokesman said.