Ennis Circuit Court Report, June 29th (2018)
Here is the court report from June 29th at Ennis Circuit Court, where Judge Gerald Keys ruled that the cases of Colm Roddy, Dave Donnellan, Dan Dowling and Edward Horgan should be transferred from Ennis Circuit Court to Dublin Circuit court. This means a trial by jury in Dublin. We have no doubt but that all these cases will eventually be dismissed, as they should be, either on grounds of justification of for technical legal reasons.
Our court reporter has been in many courtrooms over the last decade or so. It's not often that what's said and done in them surprises him. But this day's proceedings did. Here's his report from June 29th.
The four defendants, Ed Horgan, Dan Dowling, Dave Donnellan and Colm Roddy have been trying to have their cases transferred to Dublin from the moment they first set foot in the Circuit Court after the judge in the District Court refused jurisdiction.
Today was judgement day, with regard to that effort.
The defendants were in the courtroom for 10.30am and Judge Keys arrived shortly thereafter. They were the only defendants in the room.
The judge got straight to business. He first explained why they were all gathered. He went on to describe each defendant and the charges they were facing. Nothing surprising in that.
He moved on to giving his judgement from there and he began by saying:
"The standard is that the Court has to be satisfied that it would be manifestly unjust not to make the application which has been sought. The decision to grant or refuse an application shall be final and unappealable as such and that is provided in the statute. This, needless to say, on its face, is a high threshold."
After giving an Oxford English dictionary of the words "manifestly," and "unfair," he introduced the surprising content. I could explain what he went on to say, but I'd not do justice to his words. Those words were:
"Now, I'm told that the history behind these applications, that the DPP directed that these cases be disposed of in the District Court. The District Court refused jurisdiction, apparently on account of the monetary damage resulting from the alleged acts of criminal damage in relation to the Dowling and Horgan case and in relation to the other case, damage done to a perimeter fence in the sum of €3,500, although the correspondence suggests that the sum was increased from a lower figure up to 3,500. And in relation to that, the accused are now being charged on indictment in this Court, which is reserved for more serious criminal acts, attracting, needless to say, higher sanctions, should the DPP satisfy a jury beyond reasonable doubt, that the accused persons committed the alleged acts in the first instance.
In my opinion, while it isn't relevant in one sense, in both cases, I am of the view, and it is a complaint which has been made by all four applicants: that why is this matter before this Court?
I think there is strong merit in their submissions in relation to that aspect of the case. On its face, it would appear to me that, bearing in mind the amount of damage which has been sustained to the perimeter fence and the monetary damage, if you want to call it that, or no monetary damage, which was caused by the graffiti, would certainly, on its face, appear to me, to be a case which could have been, where there was ample jurisdiction, in the District Court to dispose of.
As I say, the Dowling case, no significant monetary damage was caused to the aircraft, other than cleaning the aircraft and the delays it caused. Ample jurisdiction, I would have thought, was in that Court, to deal with that matter. As I say, I have no control over that as such and I have no jurisdiction either, whether I disagree or agree with such an order being made by the lower Court. I have no jurisdiction to intervene in any way in that respect. My hands are tied."
The judge went on to give a brief explanation as to the history and purpose of the right to have a case transferred to Dublin in circumstances where it would be "manifestly unjust," to do otherwise. He described a climate affecting the population of Clare that had been brought about by the publicity surrounding Shannon Airport and that had eventually led to the alleged actions of the four defendants. He said that this climate, which had adversely affected the possibility of a fair trial had probably increased over time.
He then told the silent room that it is often the case, and sometimes rightly so, that judges are criticised for inconsistency. He said that this inconsistency was not limited to verdicts and punishments, that it also applied to an understanding of the law and applications. He went on to explain that Moran J. had moved the Ploughshares to Dublin in a similar application and that he was moving these trials to Dublin and was being consistent in the doing of it.
Before finishing, just in case folks, particularly the two journalists in the courtroom, didn't get the message the first time, the Judge went on to say the following:
"As I say, that in relation to the merits of the submission being made, there is a lot of merit in relation to one aspect of it and that is a complaint made by all four defendants that this is a case that has been transferred to the Circuit on indictment by reason of jurisdiction refusal in the lower Court, which is that Court's prerogative and that's all I will say on that. And I have pointed this out in other cases as well, that should, should, the DPP be successful in obtaining a conviction, for the sake of argument, it would be noted down as a case of a serious nature, because he's charged on indictment.
That's just by way of comment as such and I'm making no further comments in relation to it.
Therefore I'm acceding to the defendants' application."
While those present were collecting their jaws from the floor and watching steam rising from the journalists as they worked furiously, the judge asked if there were any more issues to be dealt with before he vacated the room.
There was only one. Another surprise. Ed Horgan's bail conditions. Ed has fought these conditions tooth and claw since his first mention date in Ennis District Court. Recent arguments between himself, the DPP and Judge Keys have been heated, to put it very mildly and Ed has had to live with not being able to go within 5km of Shannon airport.
Today was different. Amicable. The result being, that this dedicated whistleblower is now able to resume his self-imposed duty of informing the world of Ireland's participation in the murder of children and other crimes against nature, morality and dignity.
To finish this report, we'd like to personally thank Judge Keys for what he said. It went well beyond merely granting an application. It took both guts and a sense of decency that we've seldom seen the like of displayed by an Irish judge in an Irish courtroom.