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Special Criminal Court must follow Diplock Courts into extinction

11 August, 2006

Sinn Féin Justice spokesperson Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD speaking following signals from the British Government that they are to reduce the number of trials in non-jury Diplock courts in the Six Counties has called on the Dublin Government to follow suit and get rid of the Special Criminal Court and the Offences Against the State Acts.

Speaking today Deputy Ó Snodaigh said, "Non jury Diplock in the Six Counties were a repressive measure designed to fast-track the imprisonment of republicans in a conveyor belt manner. They should not just become the exception to the rule but should be done away with altogether. However, this is a step in the right direction.

"The Special Criminal Court in the Twenty-Six Counties was set up in much the same manner as the Diplock Courts in the North. However, Justice Minister Michael McDowell has been moving in the opposite direction to the British. He has consistently supported the broadening of the use of the Special Criminal Court despite the UN twice calling for an end to its existence.

"Repressive legislation has no place in a democratic state in the 21st century and certainly not in Ireland 12 years into the peace process, 9 years into a continuous cessation by the Irish Republican Army, 8 years after the conclusion of the Good Friday Agreement, and one year after the IRA took the courageous and unprecedented step in formally ending their armed campaign and putting their arms beyond use. The ending of the Special Criminal Court and the repeal of the Offences Against the State Act are required under strand three of the Good Friday Agreement which was endorsed by the vast majority of people on this Island. Michael McDowell must act on this endorsement and move forward with the ending of the Special Criminal Court and the repeal of the Offences Against the State Acts." ENDS

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