peace and order
where ordinary courts, and by inference, trial by jury, aredeemed inadequate.
The Report of the Committee to review the Offencesagainst the State act, 1939-1998 and related matters
acknowledged thatalthough it is commonly believed that the original and only reason for thecreation and continued existence of this court related to the troubles inNorthern Ireland, this was never expressly stated.
Article 6 of the EuropeanConvention on Human Rights demands that everyone be entitled to trial byan ‘independent and impartial tribunal established by law: nothing heretoforehas been shown to prove that the existence and function of the S.C.Ccontravenes this. In
the European Court of Human Rights stressedthat ‘tribunal, including a jury, must be impartial, so the issue of jury bias isone of fundamental importance and can directly impede a defendant’s rightto a fair trial.
In this instance, removing the jury removes possible bias whichcan as likely arise from fear and intimidation as from prejudice.In 1939 the Minister at the time made it clear that the cases to be dealt withby the S.C.C were ‘offences that relate to armed intimidation and to violentmeans.’
Between 1939 and 1946 the S.C.C handled a range of offences,from black marketeering to murder
, during this period the largest number of convictions related to black market trading
, which are in essence economicoffences but it would appear that they nonetheless were offences thatthreatened the maintenance of public order
, in itself a form of intimidation
Bunreacht na hEireann
1937, art. 38.3.1
Hereafter referred to as Offences against the State Review Committee
ibid., para 9.31
Sander v. U.K (2001) 31 EHRR 44
The History and Development of the Special Criminal Court,
1922-2005, page 22
2 March 1939, vol. 74, col. 1290
Fundamental rights in the Irish law and Constitution
ed., Dublin 1967) p.278
Davis, op. cit., p.p. 90-91
In times of crisis, the equitable distribution of scarce resources can be an important element in themaintenance of public order, ibid.,