Non-jury court has jurisdiction to hear trial over Kevin Lunney abduction, judge says

The Special Criminal Court has rejected arguments that it has no jurisdiction to hear the trial of four men accused of causing serious harm to Quinn Industrial Holdings director Kevin Lunney.

Michael O’Higgins SC, for one of the four accused, said the court has become a “permanent and perpetual” structure that is not permitted by the legislation that brought it into existence.

He said the democratic process “has been rescinded and replaced by an ad hoc expansion” whereby the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), a civil servant, decides who should be tried before the non-jury court.

Mr Justice Tony Hunt, presiding, with Judge Gerard Griffin and Judge David McHugh, dismissed the arguments, saying that the court’s jurisdiction is established by legislation and that the documents relied on by the DPP in bringing the men before the court were in order.

He further found that arguments suggesting the Oireachtas has not revisited the question of the 1972 proclamation, which brought the court into existence, cannot be dealt with by it.

“That invites us into the political thicket where we are not permitted to go and it is arguable that no court is permitted to go there.”

He said the court’s jurisdiction has been established and the trial will go ahead on Wednesday.

Luke O’Reilly (67), of Mullahoran Lower, Kilcogy, Co Cavan; Darren Redmond (27), of Caledon Road, East Wall, Dublin 3; Alan O’Brien (40), of Shelmalier Road, East Wall; and a fourth accused man (40) are all charged with false imprisonment and causing serious harm to Mr Lunney at Drumbrade, Ballinagh, Co Cavan on September 17th, 2019. The fourth man cannot be named by order of the court as he is due to face trial on other, unrelated matters.

Mr Lunney (51), a father of six, was abducted close to his home in Co Fermanagh on the evening of the alleged offences. His leg was broken, he was doused in bleach and the letters QIH were carved into his chest during the 2½ ordeal. He was later dumped on a roadside in Co Cavan.

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