Sinn Féin TDs leave Dáil chamber during Special Criminal Court vote

A total of 90 TDs tonight voted to extend the laws underpinning the non-jury court this evening, but rather than vote against it, Sinn Féin TDs left the chamber.
Sinn Féin TDs leave Dáil chamber during Special Criminal Court vote

Justice Minister Heather Humphreys tonight sought to renew the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 and the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 for a further year. Picture: Gareth Chaney/ Collins Photos

Sinn Féin TDs left the Dáil chamber during a vote on the Special Criminal Court this evening.

A total of 90 TDs tonight voted to extend the laws underpinning the non-jury court this evening, but rather than vote against it, Sinn Féin TDs left the chamber.

A spokesperson for the party said that the act was consistent with its policy.

"Sinn Féin made it clear during the course of the Dáil and Seanad debates that we would not oppose the motion and that we would abstain. That is what we did."

Justice Minister Heather Humphreys tonight sought to renew the Offences Against the State (Amendment) Act 1998 and the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 for a further year. The legislation must be renewed every year and was passed last year when Sinn Féin, in a policy shift, abstained from the vote on the basis that the laws be reviewed.

Earlier this year, former High Court and Court of Appeal judge Michael Peart was asked to chair the review of the Special Criminal Court and Ms Humphreys is expected to receive an interim report from his group in the coming weeks. The group is required to outline a timeline for the completion of its work, expected to take more than six months to complete.

This will be the first review in two decades of the court, which was established as a temporary measure 49 years ago. A yearly review of the laws is committed to in the programme for government.

Fianna Fáil TD James Browne called the walkout "bizarre and childish", while People Before Profit TD Paul Murphy called it "peculiar".

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