Special Criminal Court

Special Criminal Court

Special Criminal Court

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The Special Criminal Court () is a juryless criminal court in the Republic of Ireland which tries terrorist and organized crime cases. Article 38 of the Constitution of Ireland empowers the Dáil to establish "special courts" with wide-ranging powers when "the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice". The court was first established by the Dáil under the Offences against the State Act 1939 — law establishing the court to prevent the Irish Republican Army from subverting Ireland's neutrality during World War II (see: the Emergency). The current incarnation of the Special Criminal Court dates from 1972, just after the Troubles in Northern Ireland began.


The court is composed of three judges appointed by the government from among the judges of the ordinary courts, usually one from the High Court, one from the Circuit Court and one from the District Court. The court sits as a three-judge panel with no jury, and verdicts are by majority vote. Verdicts can be appealed to the Court of Criminal Appeal. — Irish government information website — Courts Service website

In 2004, Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform Michael McDowell announced his intention to establish a second Special Criminal Court to speed up the trial process....
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