After the 26-county state this week voted to renew the mandate of the non-jury Special Criminal Court (SCC), the Irish Republican Socialist Party express our continued opposition to this oppressive institution and call for it’s absolute and immediate abolition.

The SCC was initially established under the Offences Against the State Act 1939 with the sole purpose of being used as a political tool to suppress Republicans and those viewed as “subversive” by the State. 

This act gave the 26-county state “special powers”, including the trying of suspects in a non-jury court, presided over by three judges, when it was deemed by the State that “ordinary courts [were] inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice”. 

Essentially, this was because the State often had trouble convicting Republicans by jury when much of the population supported the goals of the Republican Movement.

Although in recent years there has been an increase in the number of non-republican and criminal cases, it cannot be denied that the court remains in operation primarily as a weapon to be used against the threat to the State by so-called “subversive” elements. 

Many of our comrades within the Republican Socialist Movement, and, the broader Republican Movement have been dragged through this court, often with very little evidence presented against the accused. And quite often too with no evidence whatsoever and outright frame-ups of activists. 

However, due to the special powers of the court, convictions can be obtained solely on the “belief” of a Garda Chief Superintendent that a person is a member of an illegal organisation. The court also has the power to make “inferences from silence” and allows the prosecution to use “secret evidence” to secure conviction. 

And with a 94% conviction success rate, a rate significantly greater than any other court in the State, the oppressive and undemocratic nature of the SCC is blatant. So much so that the institution has been condemned by Amnesty International, the Irish Council on Civil Liberties, the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, and, former president of the 26-county state, Mary Robinson.

As proponents of socialism we oppose the undemocratic and unjust nature of what is essentially an “emergency” court and the unique powers it is given. Powers which are free to be used against any mass social movement if the State deems them a threat. 

We are out for the creation of a democratic 32 county Socialist Republic, to replace both failed States in this country, the SCC is an obvious obstacle to these aims. We call for the immediate abolition of the SCC, but also, we call on all socialists and republicans to work towards it’s abolition and its exposure as an unjust tool of oppression. 

Whether in the streets, on the doorsteps or in the chambers of council or parliament – we must not abstain, but make our voices heard – ABOLISH THE SPECIAL CRIMINAL COURT!