Martin: Sinn Féin’s plans to replace Special Criminal Court ‘extraordinary’

Micheál Martin, the leader of Fianna Fáil, has described as “extraordinary” the calls from Gerry Adams for witness protection schemes for jurors to replace the Special Criminal Court.

Martin: Sinn Féin’s plans to replace Special Criminal Court ‘extraordinary’

Mr Martin said the Sinn Féin leader’s comments demonstrate a complete lack of know-how about how such witness-protection programmes work.

Sinn Féin, which has been severely critical of the Special Criminal Court since the conviction of leading republican Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy on tax evasion charges, has said it will abolish the non-jury courts if elected to government.

Speaking in Dublin over the weekend, Mr Adams said: “What we are saying is there no need for what was brought in as so-called emergency legislation 40 years ago and which has no 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.”

Speaking in Cork City yesterday morning as he handed in his nomination papers to returning officer Martin Harvey, Mr Martin branded the suggestions as “extraordinary”.

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He said the Special Criminal Court could play a vital role in tackling the “outrageous and barbaric” gangland crimes such as the fatal shooting of a man in the Regency Hotel in Dublin last Friday.

“And what was even more extraordinary was this idea that you could have a witness-protection programme for jurors,” said Mr Martin.

“And the whole idea of abolishing the Special Criminal Court, which is a legacy of the Provisional IRA campaign in this country but which has proved to be a very effective mechanism to deal with terrorism on the island and which has great potential to deal with gangland crime.

“It demonstrates a complete lack of know-how in terms of how witness protection programmes work.

“You cannot disappear juries into such a programme and clearly the Special Criminal Court is an essential tool to deal with the kind of gangland crime that is ongoing at the moment.”

Mr Martin canvassed in Bandon and across West Cork yesterday afternoon.

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