The Court of Criminal Appeal in Dublin has quashed the convictions by the non-jury Special Criminal Court of five Munster men on charges of membership of the Real IRA.
The three appeal court judges ruled yesterday that the Special Criminal Court did not have the jurisdiction to try the five because of the delay in charging the men following their arrests.
The five men, from Limerick and Cork, had received sentences of between three and six years. The appeal court’s decision was delivered to a packed courtroom yesterday and was met with loud cheers from the mens’ supporters.
The decision was made in light of a Supreme Court decision last October in a similar case -- that of County Louth man Barry O’Brien.
The judge said the “loophole” highlighted by the O’Brien case had been closed in the 2006 Criminal Justice Act but that change did not apply to these particular five cases.
INTIMIDATION AT REPUBLICAN FUNERAL
Republican Sinn Féin has condemned the actions of the PSNI police which it said had disrupted the funeral of Tyrone republican Molly McCaughey, on Monday.
A PSNI helicopter was flying low over the estate as the remains left her Dungannon home.
The funeral procession took place amid a heavy presence of PSNI Landrovers, while Special Branch police were observed photographing and videoing the proceedings. As the funeral cortege arrived at Edendork for Requiem Mass, the helicopter continued to hover overhead.
A spokesperson for Republican Sinn Féin said: “We extend our sincere condolences to the family of the late Molly McCaughey, whose son Fian James McCaughey was murdered by British-backed loyalist death squads on St. Patrick’s Day in 1976, and condemn unreservedly the British forces of occupation for their show of strength during the funeral proceedings.
“Such activities can only cease once the British have departed our shores. We would encourage people to become involved with the Republican Movement so that we might achieve our goal -- a goal for which Molly’s son made the supreme sacrifice.”