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Secret evidence does not allow the defence team equal access to justice

Regarding the recent controversy about the Special Criminal Court, none of your writers have commented on the outstanding feature of the special criminal court — that a large proportion of convictions are based on secret evidence.

When a person is charged with belonging to a proscribed organisation, usually a republican group, a particularly poignant accusation by the way on the 100th anniversary of the 1916 rising, the unsupported word of a chief superintendent of the Garda Síochána is accepted as evidence of guilt.

With the setting-up of a second Special Criminal Court, secret evidence, not available to the defence, will become more normalised. This already poses a danger to civil and human rights and will pose a danger to civil protesters such as water protesters.

We must also remember cases such as the infamous Sallins Train Robbery case where a number of young men who were innocent of the charges were condemned to long prison sentences by the same Special Criminal Court, to name but the most famous instance of injustice by this court.

Those of us who cherish human civil rights, in the tradition of Seán Mac Bride, founder of Amnesty International, should oppose the continuing use of political courts such as the Special Criminal Court in Ireland, and any attempt to establish further courts of the same standard.

Seán Ó Coileáin


Co Cork


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