IRA man takes his case to Europe

THE European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has decided that a full sitting of the court will hear a case taken against the State by former IRA leader Brendan “Bik” McFarlane.

The Belfast-born republican is claiming his right to a fair trial on charges of being involved in the kidnapping of supermarket executive Don Tidey in 1983 were violated by the State’s delay in prosecuting the case.

McFarlane is proceeding with his case against the State before the ECHR in Strasbourg, despite being acquitted by the Special Criminal Court in June 2008 of being involved in the Tidey kidnapping.

The case against McFarlane collapsed after the Special Criminal Court ruled that Garda evidence in which the accused allegedly admitted his role in the crime was inadmissible.

In his ECHR pleadings, the former IRA bomber claims the Irish authorities “maliciously and deliberately” delayed initiating criminal proceedings against him.

McFarlane was imprisoned in the North in 1975 for his involvement in an IRA bombing of a pub on the Shankill Road in which five people were killed, but escaped in September 1983.

He remained on the run until he was finally arrested in the Netherlands in 1986 when found in possession of a bogus passport. He was extradited back to the North and returned to jail to serve the remainder of his sentence until his release on parole in 1998.

However, McFarlane was arrested and detained by gardaí within a few days on suspicion of the false imprisonment of Mr Tidey and the possession of a firearm with intent to endanger life.

In his case before the ECHR, McFarlane will argue that gardaí had ample opportunity to arrest him in late 1983 shortly after the date of the alleged offences. He also claims his arrest in 1998 was a conscious violation of his rights.

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