Saoradh’s view of the conviction in a non-jury court this week of its former party chairperson in Dublin, Kevin Braney, on the word of a paid informer.
At every stage in the struggle against the occupation of this country, revolutionaries have been met with harsh injustices, and today was no different. The widely condemned ‘Special Court’ ruled that it has accepted the word of paid perjurer and liar David Cullen (pictured, left) for a second time.
The ‘Special Court’, although long in its existence, has been operating in its current form since 1972. The Dublin government took the steps to establish the court due to the rise in republican resistance since the introduction of British crown forces onto the streets of the occupied six counties. Knowing the difficulties the state would face in finding a jury to convict a person charged with what they deemed ‘republican offenses’, the state withdrew the jury from the court and appointed itself judge, jury and if needed, executioner.
The court has since been used mainly to charge republican political activists and those who refuse to accept the status quo, and this was never more apparent than today when former Saoradh Dublin Craobh chairperson Kevin Braney was convicted on the word of paid supergrass David Cullen. What’s more significant is that Cullen was no stranger to this case. Long before there was even a hint of accusations being made against Braney, it was Cullen had found himself sitting in Braney’s seat. Cullen was initially charged with murder, having being arrested in possession of a firearm, before he turned state supergrass two days into his trial.
Dave Cullen had therefore found himself in gaol in March 2013, but after 18 months of living at close quarters with republican prisoners, he was plucked out of the gaol under the cover of darkness and placed into protective custody. Armed with the book of evidence from his initial arrest, Cullen had offered to “fill in any gaps” which might arise in the states case against his former co accused. The states first attempt to use Cullen failed miserably, when after over 60 days the trial collapsed. Having admitted to perjuring himself when asked had he ever lied in court or interrogation he stunned everyone in the court by saying he did and exclaiming “I would say anything not to be sitting over there” pointing towards his former co-accused.
Cullen had also admitted to robbing an employer of 30,000 euro after his father had gotten him a job in a local garage. When asked how he felt about it he said he had “absolutely no remorse whatsoever.” Evidence was also produced that he broke into his fathers house at Christmas knowing his father was away with his partner and kids, and stole rings and football jerseys among other things. He also admitted that on another occasion he had also locked himself in his bathroom while his two young kids were in the house with his then partner and cut his wrists, leading to him having to be psychiatrically assessed. This set of circumstances, in any other other court in the land would be enough to bring the whole trial down. Not in the ‘Special court’ however. Cullen was allowed to proceed and his word was eventually accepted by the the three judge panel who agreed that Cullen was indeed a liar and deceptive but “he was honest and forthright about his capacity for dishonesty” allowing them to take his word because this time he was being honest!
The trial eventually collapsed due to the Free State’s failure to disclose that Cullen had actually told his handlers he didn’t like one of the men he was giving evidence against. This part of the statement was not given to the accused and the man in question only received the vital piece of information as closing speeches were made, when Cullens statement appeared in another trial but this time this segment of the statement wasn’t redacted. The trial sensationally collapsed when the trial judge, who’s courtroom was now full of journalists who had up to that point refused to report on the case once a supergrass was being used, was left with no option but to do what should have been done weeks before, collapse the case, due to the prosecution’s blatant attempt to obstruct the flow of disclosure.
Cullen was rolled out again two years later, this time he wasn’t such a willing witness. When questioned by the defense team, he admitted to having no desire to be there and that the only reason he was in the court at all was because he had been told by his handlers that he faced being “kicked out of the Witness Protection Programme if I didn’t help secure a prosecution”. This time the I’s were dotted and the T’s were crossed, and two men were handed down life sentences on his word.
Forward on another 18 months and Cullen was back in the court again, this time to try and convict Braney. The DPP had ruled three years earlier that Kevin Braney had no case to answer, but having seen how Cullen’s word was accepted in the previous trial, they decided to cast the rod again. Kevin Braney, a constant thorn in Free State’s side at the time was their number one target. Kevin could be seen the length and breadth of the country at protests for Republican Prisoners, commemorating fallen Irish revolutionaries or taking a lead in social activism, such as feeding the homeless from the steps of the GPO.
Cullen meanwhile, who had received a 3 and a half year term for possession of a weapon, was somehow released long before that sentence was completed, even though evidence was given that he had been caught with contraband while in protective custody. Somehow, Cullen who had received an additional sentence for this contraband, had been released before the first sentence was up, even though the sentences were to run concurrently. Another sweetener for the Supergrass.
Details emerged in the court of the life Cullen was living within the Witness Protection Programme. He was convicted of harassing a girl he had met while living at his new location. The State, who had tried to get any details of Cullen’s current life omitted from the court, were forced to admit that Cullen had posted pictures of the girl on social media platforms advising people not to contact her and used derogatory remarks to attack the girl. The girl in question had also given a statement that she came home to find faeces on her front door with the word ‘slut’ spelled out. Cullen claimed to be madly in love with the girl had asked her for a second chance but was issued with an order to stay away from the girl and fined 500 euro. He refused to pay the fine but amazingly the Free State decided to foot the bill, citing the fact that not paying the money could possibly blow Cullen’s cover. The moral hazard created by this decision should not be underestimated - the message which was sent from the State to Cullen is that he can go on to commit other crimes, including against vulnerable people, and that the State will not allow him to be held responsible.
More details of Cullen’s benefits scheme began to emerge. While homelessness is the main issue all across the 32 counties, Cullen, living in another country, has no such worries. He not only receives 100% subsidies on housing, food and drink, he also gets an additional monthly allowance for socialising while also collecting the full weekly social welfare allowance. But Cullen’s dishonesty don’t stop with stealing from his own family and avoiding the payment of fines; he has also received thousands of euro rent allowance which was to passed on to the “host country” where he now resides. Instead of passing it on he kept the large monthly sum for himself. The Free State was again forced to admit they cannot get the monies owed from Cullen and again have had to foot the bill for Cullen’s dishonesty. It’s worth noting at this point that at the time of Cullen’s arrest in 2013, his former landlord gave evidence that in the two years Cullen lived in his apartment, Cullen had only paid two moths rent, even though he was receiving full state rent allowance, and left the homeowner thousands of euro out of pocket.
A letter to the ‘host nation’ from a driving instructor was also produced in court. This letter gave evidence that Cullen had kept the money given to him to learn how to drive. The driving instructor explained how she became afraid of Cullen and his threatening behavior towards her, leading to her removing herself as his driving instructor.
A member of the Witness Protection Programme also revealed how Cullen had contacted someone assigned to look after his needs saying he had no food and wanted money to “stock up on supplies”. On arriving at Cullen’s house, the handler noticed Cullen had removed the shelves from the fridge, and that he then admitted to hiding the food in a different room in another petty attempt to deceive his handlers. A note was also read out to which the host nation issued Cullen with a ‘final warning’ as to his behavior.
In complete contrast, Kevin Braney is a solid Republican political activist, a devoted husband and loving father to 7 children. Kevin was held for 2 years in 2013 on two separate trumped up charges and was acquitted on both. It was a case of ‘internment by remand’ - where an activist is held in gaol awaiting trial for years, but where the prosecution has no credible evidence to present to the court, and so the period of being held on remand is used as an unofficial from of internment without trial. It is one of a number of dirty tricks used against Republicans who have dared to fight back against the pretence that Ireland’s constitutional position has been resolved.
Kevin’s involvement in political activity was born out of the desire to see the re-unification of this country, and through his efforts, Kevin has offered far more to the promise of the just and free society outlined in the 1916 Proclamation of the Republic and the Democratic Programme of the 1st Dáil than the agents of the neo-colonial state who have hauled him in and set him up. On Friday last he was convicted on the word of a self-proclaimed perjurer, liar and thief. That is not something that should just worry Republican activists, but all sections of society who believe in the very concept of justice.