There have been protests against the planned use of a paid informer in the non-jury trial of republican political activist Kevin Braney, the chairperson of Saoradh in Dublin.
Mr Braney was brought before a sitting of the Special Criminal Court last month on foot of accusations made against him by ‘supergrass’ Dave Cullen. Cullen had a murder charge against him dropped by the state after he agreed to give evidence against republicans.
Mr Braney has previously spent two years on remand on two previous charges of IRA membership, which were ultimately dropped. Prosecutors have said they are now seeking a trial before a non-jury court because “the ordinary courts are inadequate for effective administration of justice”.
This week, the juryless court heard that in response to being arrested and charged by the Gardai, Mr Braney denounced the charge as politically motivated and demanded a fair trial.
As he was being led away, he and supporters shouted “end supergrass trials”.
Separately, republican prisoners at Portlaoise jail flew a protest flag out of their cells in a demonstration against the judicial abuses.
In a statement released to the media, Mr Braney said the combination of a juryless trial and a paid informer made it impossible to prove his innocence.
He said his family and friends had endured Garda harassment, abuse, threats, and attempts to set him up.
He also described the years he has already spent or remand as amounting to internment. After a further six weeks behind bars on remand this year, he was informed by his lawyer that charges were now being prompted by the word of the ‘supergrass’ Dave Cullen.
“He [Cullen] has since entered the witness protection programme, in doing so abandoning his children and family, and is in receipt of monthly payments,” Mr Braney said.
“Throughout the 1980’s, the British government used ‘supergrass’ evidence extensively against republicans, but all of those cases ultimately failed when scrutinised by international observers and human right activists.
“Difficult and all as it is for me or any republican to prove innocence in the non-jury ‘Special Criminal Court’, it becomes nigh on impossible when you add a paid perjurer/supergrass to the mix.
“I call upon all republicans and anybody interested in human rights and natural justice to publically oppose this sinister development.”
The 1916 Societies condemned the use of the “long discredited” supergrass tactic in the 26 Counties as a means to target and imprison Irish republicans “without meaningful evidence or due process”.
“We call on those who have set in place this reactionary policy - which is a fundamental, grotesque violation of the right to a fair trial - to desist at once,” they said.
“We call for all charges against those concerned to be dropped forthwith and for those currently imprisoned on the say-so of a paid agent of the state, Dave Cullen, to be released without further ado.
“To those effected by these reprehensible measures, we extend our solidarity and support. We call also at this time on republicans and progressives to join in our opposition to this frightening development, which is a cause of concern for us all as to the future direction our society is set toward.”