“one of the probable defence arguments it considered was..”

The Irish Times has photos of sitting Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris meeting Pearse McAuley and Kevin Walsh – two of the men convicted of killing Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in 1996 – as they were released from jail this morning. As an Associated Press report in 2005 noted – “The IRA unit shot McCabe three times at point-blank range with an assault rifle and badly wounded his colleague, detective Ben O’Sullivan, during a botched ambush on a cash-filled van. The IRA denied involvement, then said the unit acted without authorization.” Meanwhile, the CPS has reportedly announced that it no longer intends to seek the extradition of McAuley and Nessan Quinlivan “for conspiracy to murder former brewery executive Sir Charles Tidbury and on explosives and firearms charges”, nor two other suspected IRA men, Andrew Martin and Anthony Duncan. According to the BBC report.

[The CPS] said it had considered evidence as well as the likely arguments which would be put forward by the defence, who would argue that an abuse of process had occurred so a trial could not go ahead. The CPS said one of the probable defence arguments it considered was “statements made by ministers in respect of terrorists on the run.” Having reviewed the cases, the CPS decided there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction.

Adds Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, where non-sitting Sinn Féin MP Gerry Adams had complained about a “sordid secret deal” which resulted in reduced charges and sentences for two of three teenagers accused of murder, the UK Attorney General has responded.

“No prosecuting authority has the luxury of being able to put cases before the courts because that is what the victim, the victim’s family or society generally wants.

“That would be easy but would be wrong. The prosecuting authority, whilst it takes into account the views of victims and families affected by crime, is not there simply to represent their interests.

“The prosecutor has to act in the wider interests of justice and that includes taking cognisance of the defendant’s rights – whatever views society may have formed in relation to the defendant and his conduct.

“The prosecuting authority has to weigh the evidence objectively and dispassionately and assess, using its own knowledge and experience, whether the test for prosecution is met.”