Flanagan seeks Garda review after ex-senior IRA figure skips bail

From Irish Independent 30th July 2019 by Hugh O’Connell

The focus of attention I fear in this instance will be on An Garda Siochana whereas the focus should of course be on the Courts as to why any person extradited back to face charges is granted bail by the Court. An Garda Siochana is always somehow blamed with any glitch in the legal system. Its Judges that grant bail, usually after Garda objection, to accused persons. Its time to get real.

JUSTICE Minister Charlie Flanagan has asked the Garda Commissioner to carry out an urgent review after a former senior IRA figure skipped bail before he could face trial for alleged child sex offences.

The individual, a former IRA member and Sinn Féin activist from Belfast, was extradited from Spain in 2016 and charged with four counts of sexual assault against a minor.

The accused was granted bail but disappeared two days before the trial was due to start in June 2017.

The disappearance only came to light last week when it was reported by RTÉ.

Mr Flanagan has since written to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and asked for a report as soon as possible. He also spoke with former Labour senator Máiría Cahill, a victim of abuse within the republican movement, who highlighted the case in the ‘Sunday Independent’ at the weekend.

Ms Cahill told the Irish Independent last night she was glad the minister saw the importance of the issue and had asked for an urgent report from An Garda Síochána.

“He told me he has ‘deep unease’ with the situation, as any right-thinking person would. The focus of An Garda Síochána has to be to redouble their efforts to locate this man so a trial can take place – but also to answer pertinent questions,” she said.

“This incident has been a huge let-down and everyone should work to ensure that no stone is left unturned.”

Ms Cahill said Sinn Féin needed to call on the individual in question to give himself up. Sinn Féin did not respond to queries, but has said anyone with information should bring it to gardaí.

A Department of Justice spokesman said: “This case is subject to an ongoing criminal investigation. The department does not comment on individual cases.”

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