Murphy challenges Special Criminal Court venue for case

The latest stage in the long-running saga of the State versus Thomas Murphy got under way in Dublin’s High Court today.  Thomas Murphy faces trial in the Special Criminal Court on nine charges of failing to make tax returns between 1996 and 2004. 

In October 2008, the “culmination of intensive investigations by the Irish Criminal Assets Bureau and the UK’s Serious and Organised Crime Agency” saw more than €625,000 in cash and cheques confiscated in Ireland as the proceeds of crime, while £445,000 (573,000 euro) and nine properties in the north-west of England were recovered by UK authorities. There were also reported tax settlements with the Irish Criminal Assets Bureau “for a figure understood to be over €1m” by Patrick and Frank Murphy, brothers of Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy – who has been named previously as both the UK’s richest smuggler and a former Provisional IRA Chief of Staff.

Today’s BBC report notes

However, his [Thomas Murphy’s] lawyers argue that as that court was set up to try terrorist-related cases, a different court should have been chosen.

They claim the Irish state has acted illegally in its choice of court as Mr Murphy is being charged with tax offences.

And the RTÉ report adds

The legislation allows the DPP to issue a certificate directing the trial of a matter before the Special Criminal Court on the grounds that the ordinary courts would be inadequate to achieve the administration justice and the preservation of peace and order.

Mr O’Higgins said there was no opportunity for a person who is sent for trial at the Special Criminal Court under such circumstances to appeal that decision.

The action is expected to take around three days.

Of course, “Tom Murphy is not a criminal. He’s a good republican.”  That quote from Gerry Adams in full (March 2006)

“Tom Murphy is not a criminal. He’s a good republican. I read his statement after the Manchester raids. I believe what he says. He’s also, and very importantly, a key supporter of the Sinn Féin peace strategy and has been for a very long time.”

But then Adams also said when asked, by RTÉs Tommie Gorman, whether he believes Murphy’s denial of membership of the IRA Army Council,

“If he denies being a member of the IRA, then I have to accept that.”

And, if my rough grasp of geography is correct, Gerry Adams is now Tom Murphy’s new local TD…