“delay did not outweigh the community’s interest”

In the Dublin High Court, Mr Justice John Quirke has ruled that the trial of prominent Provisional IRA member Brendan McFarlane will go ahead. McFarlane had launched a second attempt to have charges against him – in relation to the kidnapping of businessman Don Tidey in 1983 – dropped in May this year after the Irish Supreme Court overturned a 2003 High Court ruling. Update Sinn Féin have released a statement on the ruling.From the RTÉ report

But this morning Mr Justice Quirke found that Mr McFarlane had not established that culpable or blameworthy delay within the State’s court process had affected or interfered with any rights enjoyed by Mr McFarlane.

He also found that if there had been a culpable or blameworthy delay on the part of the prosecuting authorities, that delay was not of a kind which would warrant prohibition of Mr McFarlane’s trial.

Justice Quirke also found that any increased levels of stress, anxiety or inconvenience caused to Mr McFarlane by the delay did not outweigh the community’s interest in having the alleged offences prosecuted to a conclusion.

Update Sinn Féin’s Aengus Ó Snodaigh, TD, has issued a statement

“The decision of the Supreme Court to allow a trial to proceed in a case where the Guards have lost the supposed evidence is deeply flawed and nonsensical.

“Republicans will be angered by this turn of events. Brendan McFarlane is a solid supporter of the Peace Process and Sinn Féin will continue to demand the end of this judicial farce.”

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  • Concerned Loyalist

    The kidnappping of a businessman cannot be classified as a “political act” in the name of Irish “freedom”. Therefore Bik cannot be released on licence as is set out in the Belfast Appeasement. The mug should feel the full force of the law and be sent down for at least 10 years…

  • Tochais Síoraí

    I’m not really sure you’ve thought this one through, CL.

  • tom

    Bic should reflect on the nature of his political leadership.

    His problems are now far from the thoughts of the leadership which used him for their dirty work.

  • realist.

    What does he need to think thru? The man broke the law he should be punished! The fact that he is hot footing it, trying with all his might to escape punishment, only adds to the drama (and amusement).
    CL’s 10yrs is a little light for this sort of crime.

  • parcifal

    TS,
    since when did thinking ever concern loyalism?
    If there’s a ready-made b1got’ss line, that’s the way to go.
    Clearly these 1980 kidnappings were fund-raisers ordered by the IRA. Not a pleasant business but since the ROI coffers were unavailable what choice was there to fund the war.

    Its a stupid decision by the High Court, taken for electoral purposes; and in a week when a definitive report on collusion came out, this is the best the Irish Judges can do. Shame on them.

  • George

    O’Snodaigh,
    “During earlier hearings into this case the Gardai had to admit to losing all of the alleged evidence against Brendan McFarlane. That should have been the end of the matter. However in a vindictive move the DPP sought to go down the road of a trial.

    The decision of the Supreme Court to allow a trial to proceed in a case where the Guards have lost the supposed evidence is deeply flawed and nonsensical.

    The Supreme Court,
    “There was in fact a forensic examination of the missing items prior to their disappearance and that the results of the forensic analysis have been preserved.

    It appears from the Book of Evidence, exhibited by the applicant, that there is a chain of evidence covering the identification of the fingerprints on the items, the photographing of the fingerprints on the items and the preservation of the photographs.

    These photographs are available for comparison purposes: they have in fact been compared with the applicant’s fingerprints and are available, if desired, for further comparison on behalf of the applicant.

    A significantly different situation would arise if this independent comparison were not possible.

    No attempt has been made in the present case to suggest that meaningful comparison is not possible, using the photographs, or that any additional advantage might have accrued to the defendant on the basis of a comparison with the actual marks made on the items as opposed to photographs of them….

    …[The] onus of proof which is on an accused person who seeks an order prohibiting his trial on the ground that circumstances have occurred which would render it unfair is that he should establish that there is a real risk that by reason of those circumstances… he could not obtain a fair trial.

    In order to demonstrate that risk there is obviously a need for an applicant to engage in a specific way with the evidence actually available so as to make the risk apparent.

    A failure to do this was the basis of the failure of the applicant in Scully [2005] I IR 242. This is not a burdensome onus of proof: what is in question, after all, is the demonstration of a real risk, as opposed to an established certainty, or even probability of an unfair trial.

    The applicant has not so much failed to meet the requisite standard of proof as failed to address the issue in any meaningful way.”

    O’Snodaigh,
    “Republicans will be angered by this turn of events. Brendan McFarlane is a solid supporter of the Peace Process and Sinn Féin will continue to demand the end of this judicial farce.”

    Where is farce?

  • parcifal

    George the farce is Bik is entitled to the same treatment as any other prisoner: loyalist or republican for acts of war pre-GFA.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    Realist,have you ever read some of the CL’s posts concerning his friends in the UDA. There’s a certain let’s say, lack of consistency with his post today.

  • George

    Parcifal,
    McFarlane isn’t a prisoner. If he is convicted of the offence, then he will be a qualifying prisoner.

    Are you saying the Irish state shouldn’t try and establish the facts in this or any other case relating to the “troubles”?

  • Henry94

    George

    Are you saying it makes sense to go through the time and expense of a trial when it is as clear as day that the person involved, if found guilty, qualifies for release under the agreement as soon as a verdict is announced.

    This is a straightforward case of state harassment with a political agenda. It’s a disgrace.

    Every republican in the country should make their was to this show-trial to demonstrate their support for Brendan McFarlane .

  • jimhancot

    Just checking you boys and girls are aware of this:

    http://2006.weblogawards.org/2006/12/best_uk_blog.php

  • George

    Henry,
    “Are you saying it makes sense to go through the time and expense of a trial when it is as clear as day that the person involved, if found guilty, qualifies for release under the agreement as soon as a verdict is announced.

    This is a straightforward case of state harassment with a political agenda. It’s a disgrace.”

    We will only know all this at the end of the trial. On the evidence thrown around, he obviously seems to qualify but justice has to be done and also seen to be done.

    That’s the way justice systems work. You can’t prejudge somebody.

    Republicans are doing this if they are saying no verdict is necessary. McFarlane could very well be found not guilty on the charges.

    The justice system can’t say it isn’t going to investigate a double murder just because it’s 99% certain that if the accused is found guilty, he will be released under the terms of the GFA.

    Republicans are free to go to the trial.

    There is a constitutional imperative that justice be administered in public.

    I would expect the same situation if an Garda Siochána had new evidence linking someone to the Dublin bombings and that person was at a Stag night in Temple Bar.

  • Henry-

    “Are you saying it makes sense to go through the time and expense of a trial when it is as clear as day that the person involved, if found guilty, qualifies for release under the agreement as soon as a verdict is announced.”

    Are you saying that the loyalists behind, say, the bombing of McGurk’s or the Dublin/ Monaghan bombings, should not be put through the time and expense of a trial when it is as clear that they would qualify for release under the GFA as soon as the verdict is announced? What’s good for one side is as good for the other.

    O Snogaigh:

    “Republicans will be angered by this turn of events. Brendan McFarlane is a solid supporter of the Peace Process and Sinn Féin will continue to demand the end of this judicial farce.””

    What the blazes? Regardless of whether McFarlane is a solid supporter of cute little puppies in animal shelters or starving children in Darfur, if the facts are there to mount a prosecution against him for a serious crime he allegedly committed, then he should be subject to the law like anybody else.

    The real subtext to O Snodaigh’s ‘supporter of the peace process’ comment is basically putting across the message that ‘if you don’t leave these lads alone, they might just go back to violence you know.’ Disgusting.

  • I agree that justice should be seen to be done.

    If there needs to be a trial to demonstrate the innocence of Bik then so be it.

    However, it does seem to be unfair that every time a Republican is accused of something there is a glee and eagerness to convict on accusations alone.

    When a Loyalist or security services personel is accused of something there is doubt raised, and the line, “is this prosecution in the public interest”

    Double standards are evident again.

    Just like the vindictive sectarian prosecution of Thomas Slab Murphy, compared to the welcoming hand-out of £20 million to Frankie Gallagher and the South Antrim UDA.

    The real reason for these double standards is political, to apease the DUP, by offering sectarian Republican prosecutions, that will ultimately fail, just for window dressing.

    This is the line Sinn Fein should take, then again Sinn Fein are not adversed to accepting favours in their own attempt to convince their rank and file on Policing etc.

    Using the judicary to play politics is the big problem that needs to be addressed.

  • BonarLaw

    Would that be this Thomas Slab Murphy ?

  • jerryp

    O’Snodaigh isn’t the first shinner to show us how they would interfere with justice should we ever be unfortunate to have them in power.

  • Reader

    parcifal: Not a pleasant business but since the ROI coffers were unavailable what choice was there to fund the war.
    Three alternatives leap to mind:
    1) Not having a war (that’s my favourite, by the way)
    2) Voluntary subscription within Ireland. That measures the support for the ‘war’ as a useful side effect. If there’s little support, then you can only have a little war.
    3) Seek election, with a manifesto pledge to raise taxes to have a war against the union. In effect – make the RoI coffers available through getting a mandate.

  • Plum Duff

    In relation to this kidnapping charge, I’m actually shocked that the moderator has allowed the first and fourth postings (Concerned Loyalist and Realist) to remain on this site. Anyone and *EVERYONE* is entitled to a fair trial and is deemed innocent until proven guilty, so they say. But these braindeads seem to think it is fair play to ‘hang’ a man before he is tried – not to mention jeopardising the chances of a fair trial.

    Now, if he’d been a journalist……. (Heh, slagging now!)

  • parcifal

    reader,
    bloody sunday stopped all those niceties

  • heck

    maybe the trial can go the way of that for the RUC’s favorite hit man, ken barrett. Have him plead guilty so nothing comes out in court. Then let him go.

  • Reader

    parcifal: bloody sunday stopped all those niceties
    Still couldn’t get votes for bombing, though, could they? Maybe the IRA analysis ‘not-enough-violence-yet’ wasn’t in tune with the voters. What do you reckon then – that the voters would have wanted the IRA to kidnap, and rob, so the voters didn’t have to pay voluntary contributions or taxes to support the armed struggle?