COGÚS | No Access To Justice

On 20th October 2015 RNU member and West Belfast man Carl Reilly was remanded to Maghaberry prison after being charged with membership of a proscribed organisation & directing terrorism, arising out of a Gardaí surveillance operation in February 2015 at a Hotel in County Louth. Those who carried out the surveillance operation and gathered the evidence later acknowledged that it was of poor quality and largely circumstantial, therefore the arrest and detention of Carl Reilly by the PSNI is a clear-cut case of selective detention based on a political agenda.

The surveillance operation produced recordings of a conversation which allegedly took place between Carl and his co-accused. The content of the recording was used as evidence to charge the pair and ensure a lengthy period on remand. Carl’s co-accused got bail a short time later, but Carl was denied bail on several occasions as the defence solicitor described the directing terrorism charge as ‘there for one purpose and one purpose only, to prevent bail’ with appointed judges citing ‘risk of re-offending’ as a justification for denying bail, working on the presupposition that Carl, as a republican activist, is guilty until proven innocent, rather than vice versa. And therefore, Carl has now been imprisoned in Maghaberry for almost twenty months while he is still awaiting trial.

It is worth noting that it was An Garda Síochána who gathered the evidence on Carl and they sought to pursue the case in the 26 county jurisdiction but due to the poor quality of the evidence they decided the case wouldn’t go anywhere, so attempting to salvage something they handed the evidence over to the PSNI, safe in the knowledge they would secure a lengthy period of remand from it and pursue the case all way due to their overarching political agenda. Both forces continue to uphold partition, but have found a common cause to work together; the persecution of republican activists.

The lengthy remand period, concocted by the Gardaí, the PSNI, MI5 and implemented by the judiciary stands in direct contrast to genuine justice. Before the trial has started, Carl has spent a significant period behind bars. There is no doubt that this was the original intention behind the security operation. The likelihood of the trial being concluded this side of the two-year mark is highly improbable. This perverse judicial obstruction acts as a bulwark to those attempting to access justice. Carl has a young family who are also suffering from the uncertainty, supposition and extreme delays in progressing the case.

The entire operation was carried out to create a political rupture and add to the process of stifling an alternative republican voice emerging in Ireland. A complicit and jaundiced media attempted to lay the groundwork for this particular case of selective detention as they printed lies, misrepresentation and innuendo in order to influence the wider public and make an easy job for the State to pursue their political agenda at the expense of a hard-working community activist and the innocent family.

Although, Carl’s case is not in isolation, nor is it the only case of its kind. Over the past number of years, the State has been using the conveyor belt of selective detention to remove activists from the political arena. This process has been used regularly against individuals that the State calls ‘unwanted citizens’ i.e. those who continue to oppose partition, and judging by the State’s actions Carl falls into this group.

Political agendas from within the PSNI, Gardaí and the judiciary should not impede on an individual’s right to liberty or a fair trial as enshrined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Republican Network for Unity’s political prisoner department – COGÚS – calls for the immediate release of Carl Reilly. The practice of selective detention must be challenged by all those with a vested interest in human rights and those who wish to create a rights based society. The denial of human and political rights cannot be ignored.