Today five Irish Republicans were handed down sentences ranging between three and a half to five and a half years respectively in the Special Political Court in Dublin. Kevin Hannaway (70) one of the Hooded-Men tortured by the British Army when internment was introduced, Sean Hannaway (51) & Eva Shannon (60) all from Belfast, David Nooney (53) and Edward O’Brien (42) both from Dublin had been accused and declared guilty under the political tribunal at Parkgate Street in June this year, after the 26 County Garda claimed to have recorded an IRA meeting at a house in Castleknock.
All were returned to Portlaoise Gaol, except Eva Shannon who it is believed has been sent to solitary confinement in Limerick Gaol against her wishes. Eva had been remanded in the Dóchas Centre Prison in Dublin before sentencing. Her well being will be of major concern to all Republican activists and Eva’s plight like Marion Price before her must now become a major campaigning issue.
Outside the ‘Special Court’ activists read a statement from those sentenced, in it they said;
“We, do not accept the guilty verdicts returned by this Court in our trials and we are not surprised at the sentences handed down today.
We have been accused in a system which is designed to secure convictions as opposed to justice. This system denies us a right to a trial before a jury of our peers. Furthermore, in this trial, we have seen that this system excuses wrongdoing by State authorities.
The Court could not but rule that the National Surveillance Unit unlawfully retained materials under the draconian Criminal Justice Surveillance Act in our case. Despite this ruling, the State suffered no consequences for their illegal acts and were allowed by this ‘Special Criminal Court’ to rely upon these illegally held materials”
“This Court is in existence to secure convictions of accused persons and we have seen that clear motive in our trial. The acceptance of the word of a Garda Chief Superintendent as evidence against three of us is nothing short of farcical. This is especially so given his inability to even answer general questions without hiding behind the security of the State and his failure to answer basic questions about basic details of the accused in this trial.”
“The ‘Special Criminal Court’ is a blight on the administration of justice in the 26 Counties. It has been condemned and had calls for its abolition from Amnesty International, The Irish Council for Civil Liberties and the United Nations Human Rights Committee among many others.”
“We now call upon those NGOs and others concerned with the administration of justice to closely examine the workings of the ‘Special Criminal Court’, it’s extraordinarily high conviction rate when compared to jury trials and its failure (to) uphold the rights of Irish citizens accused before it, often with no substance other than exceptions to the normal rules of evidence.”
Meanwhile, in separate sittings;
Dean Evans was handed life by the same ‘Court’ for a fatal shooting five years ago.
While Saoradh Chairperson in Dublin Kevin Braney was handed four years and six months and his co-accused Ciaran Maguire handed four years and eleven months after a Garda (one of the most discredited forces in Western Europe) said he believed both men to be IRA Volunteers involved in intimidation!
The Southern state it seems is intensifying it’s selective political internment via the draconian apparatus of the so-called ‘Special Courts’ recently, all political activists and human rights organisations need to challenge this oppressive policy or find themselves the target of it tomorrow.