An apparent policy of internment by remand in the 26 Counties was highlighted this week when three high-profile Irish legislators, TDs Mick Wallace, Clare Daly and Maureen O’Sullivan, offered to post bail for an alleged IRA Volunteer but were refused permission to do so.
Donal O Coisdealbha, a scientist working at Maynooth University, was refused bail for a third time pending his trial, which may not now take place until 2017.
Senior gardai police have claimed their inquiries uncovered a plan by an IRA group for an armed action during the visit to Ireland of Britain’s Prince Charles, and claim Mr O Coisdealbha was involved.
The TDs attended the non-jury Special Criminal Court, but were refused the possibility of posting a bail bond in the face of Garda opposition. Ms O’Sullivan explained why they took the extraordinary step of offering independent sureties for Mr O Coisdealbha.
“There are a couple of issues with this, one of which is the amount of time people are spending in jail on remand before being called for trial,” she said. “It can be three years, if not more, that people spend in Portlaoise (jail) waiting to go on trial.
“We have met people who have been two and three years on remand in jail and subsequently found innocent but in the meantime - they have lost their jobs and their livelihoods.”
Ms O’Sullivan said she was disturbed by the bail refusal as the accused was willing to comply with whatever conditions the judge might lay down.
“He’s 24 years old, finished school and has been working in Maynooth University, although that job is gone now,” she said.
She also pointed out that Mr O Coisdealbha was the only prisoner on his block in Portlaoise prison to have been denied bail.
“I’m not taking away from anything he may or may not have done. But there were three members of parliament there willing to vouch for him and he still didn’t get bail.”