Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal on Continued Existence of the Special Criminal Court

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (the “Commission”) notes today’s Supreme Court ruling in a case examining the interpretation of the Offences Against the State Act (the “OSA”) as it relates to the ongoing existence of the non-jury Special Criminal Court (the “SCC”).

The case concerned two men who appealed a High Court decision that they can be tried for murder before the SCC.  The Supreme Court granted them leave to appeal the High Court judgment, on the basis that there was a need to clarify the law on this matter of general public importance.

In its judgments, delivered today, the Supreme Court upheld the High Court’s ruling and dismissed the appeal.

The Commission had been permitted to appear as amicus curiae in these proceedings on a provisional basis, which involved the Commission appearing at the hearing of the appeal and making submissions, subject to further consideration by the Court.

In today’s ruling the Court held that the Commission’s submissions raised issues that were separate and distinct from those involved in the appellants’ case and did not resolve or purport to resolve the issues raised.  Accordingly, the Commission’s application did not satisfy the principles on which an amicus curiae may be permitted to participate in an appeal.

Chief Commissioner Sinéad Gibney said,

“This is an important judgment, which assists our understanding of the Offences Against the State Act.  The Commission will carefully consider the Court’s ruling, including its comments on the role of the amicus curiae.”



For further information, please contact:

Carol Hunt

Tel: 01 859 2656.

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Notes to editor:

Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is an independent public body, appointed by the President and directly accountable to the Oireachtas. The Commission has a statutory remit set out under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act (2014) to protect and promote human rights and equality in Ireland, and build a culture of respect for human rights, equality and intercultural understanding in the State.

The Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission is Ireland’s national human rights institution and is recognised as such by the United Nations. The Commission is also Ireland’s national equality body for the purpose of a range of EU anti-discrimination measures.