SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald supported jury-less gang crimes courts when Sinn Féin Ard Fheis opened at Helix in north Dublin.
We are now saying today that we recognize the need, in exceptional circumstances, for the option of a tribunal without a jury, ”she said, ending decades of Republican denunciation of the Special Criminal Court, who heard about terrorism.
“What we don’t want is the current system, where the DPP decides whether there is a case to pursue and where the case should be heard,” she told reporters at the opening. of the Ard Fheis.
“This is deeply problematic – he has been criticized within the legal brotherhood and by human rights groups, nationally and internationally.”
A court without a jury would be appropriate in cases of jury intimidation and tampering with jury or witnesses, she said.
At the time of the Good Friday deal, the intention was to abolish “special powers,” she said. It was “crazy” to regularly renew 80-year-old legislation, she added, referring to the 1939 Offenses Against the State Act.
But new arrangements were needed to hold gangs to account as part of ongoing reform of the system, she added. “Organized crime is wreaking havoc in society, and we are very concerned that these gangs which spread terror in the streets are being held to account,” she said. “An integral part of this is to revitalize the Gardaí”
A multi-stakeholder report on the reform of judicial structures in this area, initiated by former justice minister Charlie Flanagan, and to which SF has contributed, will soon be published.
Ms McDonald of the Special Criminal Court said the party’s stance on reforming the justice system was “very much in line with that of Amnesty, the UN, and the Irish Civil Liberties Council”.
“This is proper judicial oversight. It’s also about recognizing that we don’t have an emergency now. “
Some 700 delegates are attending the party’s first in-person Ard Fheis in more than two years, which will also be addressed by Northern Leader Michelle O’Neill, with Ms McDonald speaking on television this evening.
Earlier, the latter had joked that she “looked like Darth Vadar, it was not a good start” because she wore a mask to meet the media.
Health, housing and the need for government to work efficiently, and for the benefit of all in the North, were key messages, she said.
The overall theme is change, added Ms. McDonald, and “driving change across Ireland”.