Sinn Féin to accept courts without jury for “exceptional” cases – POLITICO
DUBLIN – Ireland’s main opposition party Sinn Féin appears poised to move away from its past in the Irish Republican Army – by accepting the need for juryless courts that have long put IRA members behind the bars.
The political turnaround faces a popular vote on Saturday at Sinn Fein’s annual conference. Party leader Mary Lou McDonald and her powerful central committee drafted the motion, securing its passage.
Although framed in broadly critical terms of the current three-judge Special Criminal Court, the motion admits that Ireland needs such juryless courts in “exceptional circumstances”. Sinn Fein management is also proposing new policies to protect jurors against possible identifications, intimidation and attacks.
Until now, Sinn Féin has consistently voted against retaining the Special Criminal Court, as the Irish Parliament has done every year since 1972, the deadliest year of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The Irish State Constitution of 1937 permits such courts in cases where “ordinary courts are insufficient to ensure the efficient administration of justice”.
Sinn Féin maintained their opposition even as the bloated court caseload increasingly shifted its focus from the IRA factions to the Irish underworld, particularly a Dublin feud between the Kinahan and Hutch gangs which has killed 18 people.
Changing his position on the tribunal would remove a potential stumbling block to Sinn Féin’s first entry into the government of the Republic of Ireland.
This would follow Sinn Féin’s most fundamental public policy decision: its 2007 decision to recognize the legitimacy of the police in Northern Ireland. The move paved the way for Sinn Féin to forge a power-sharing government in the UK region with British trade unionists in the north.
Sinn Féin won the popular vote in the last Irish general election in February 2020 and is seeking power in Dublin as well as Belfast. He failed to strike a coalition deal last year, in part because the two mainstream Irish big parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, accused him of prioritizing loyalty to outsiders. -the IRA law rather than the state.
In June, when Sinn Féin lawmakers withdrew ahead of a parliamentary vote on extending the powers of the jury-less tribunal for another year, Neale Richmond of Fine Gael said: “When it comes to protecting our society against the most vicious terrorists and gangsters, the silence of Le Sinn Féin is deafening.
Such beards have not proven their electoral effectiveness as Sinn Féin continues to build its top position at the expense of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. Their coalition, forged by a shared hatred of Sinn Féin, faces growing public discontent with the cost, quality and availability of housing and health care. Both issues are expected to dominate the upcoming elections, which are due to take place by February 2025.
McDonald, a former Fianna Fáil activist who joined Sinn Féin after the IRA’s provisional ceasefire in 1997, succeeded IRA veteran Gerry Adams as Sinn Féin leader in 2018. Her speech at Sinn Féin one day conference Saturday night will be live TV nationally.