Duffy trio freed as case falls apart after two years
Duffy trio freed as case falls apart after two years


Three relatives of prominent republican Colin Duffy, who were due to stand trial on IRA charges later this year, have been acquitted of all charges against them and walked free from court on Thursday.

The three County Armagh men -- Shane Duffy, Paul John Duffy and Damien Daniel Duffy -- attended Belfast Crown Court where they were informed that the Crown was “offering no further evidence against any of the accused”.

The men had been jailed at Maghaberry prison or under house arrest in Belfast for two years, equivalent to a four-year prison sentence.

All three had been told they would face a trial later this year, but prosecutors abandoned the case after a Belfast judge sought details relating to the ‘tracking devices’ allegedly used to monitor the men’s movements.

The decision has thrown a spotlight on the murky world of MI5 surveillance operations, and could have major implications for other high profile cases involving republicans who have been arrested and charged after surveillance operations.

Colin Duffy himself remains interned by remand on the basis of charges arising out of a separate Crown force surveillance operation.

Defence lawyer Niall Murphy of KRW Law, said his clients had protested their innocence vehemently throughout this case. It was now time for a major review of current cases, he said.

“The PPS must now undertake an urgent review of all cases where the security services have been permitted to engage in such intensive and obtrusive surveillance, contrary to the accepted legal standards for a fair trial,” he said.

“The law as exercised correctly by the court in this case, is very clear and is governed by a House of Lords case dating back to 2004.”

Mr Murphy said that “millions of pounds have been wasted in a surveillance exercise which was always destined to legal failure, an expense which must now be considered completely irresponsible at a time when the Department of Justice assert that their budget is under stress”.


Paul Duffy said on Thursday he has been a victim of internment and ‘political exile’ after bail restrictions meant he was not allowed to return to his Lurgan home, the impact of which was felt by his family.

His wife, Mandy Duffy, who became strongly identified with the anti-internment campaign, said in a Facebook post she felt “overwhelmed”.

“Yesterday was surreal but this morning it has finally sunk in that the nightmare is finally over,” she said.

“I’m not one to complain but it was tough on the family, in particular our children, who lost both their parents for periods of time,” she said.

“I would like to dedicate this victory to our friend and comrade TC Tony Catney (who passed away last year). He said from day one that this would be the eventual outcome and he was one of the first people I wanted to ring when the case collapsed, and that was when the emotions kicked in.”

The case of two men arrested this week may also be in doubt following the judgement -- Republican Network for Unity chairman Carl Reilly and another member of the party’s leadership were secretly recorded in meetings at the Carrickdale Hotel in Dundalk, County Louth.

It may also have implications for the miscarriage of justice campaign on behalf of Craigavon men John Paul Wootton and Brendan McConville. During their trial it emerged that information contained on a Crown force tracking device placed in Wootton’s car had been ‘wiped’ without explanation.

Other controversial surveillance-led cases include an MI5 operation against a meeting of Continuity Sinn Fein in Newry earlier this year.

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