Over the past two and a half years my family, my legal representatives and I have invested an enormous amount of time and energy refuting the charges laid before me in the indictment. However, I was never so naïve as to believe I would find Justice in the Special Criminal Court. From the outset, I was cognisant of the fact that I was the subject of an investigation that was politically motivated and conducted with impropriety. I was denied my democratic right to be tried by a jury of my peers; and I was the subject of a prosecution that was predicated upon concealment of vital evidence and the testimony of a MI5 paid perjurer. Consequently, I solemnly believe that I have been systematically denied the right to a fair trial.
Arising from this belief, on Thursday 24 July, I discharged my legal representatives and formally withdrew from the trial. My decision to embark upon a peaceful and dignified protest was based upon the incontrovertible belief that I was denied the right to a fair trial. I believe my opinion is supported by a plethora of irrefutable facts.
Since my arrest in March 2001, my legal representatives have steadfastly pursued the disclosure of all relevant documentation pertaining to this case. In this regard they left no stone unturned. My solicitor, Mr. James McGuill, continually wrote to the DPP requesting the disclosure of all relevant surveillance reports and documentation. However, these requests for disclosure were repeatedly denied. Nonetheless, our endeavours were not confined to legal correspondence. Legal applications for disclosure were also brought before the courts.
In April 2002, the Special Criminal Court declared it had no power to make an order that could compel MI5 or the FBI to disclose relevant documentation. Furthermore, in October 2002, Chief-Superintendent Callinan, in an affidavit presented to the Special Criminal Court during a four-day disclosure hearing, stated that all undisclosed documents were either irrelevant to the Defence case or were being withheld on grounds of national security. During this hearing the Prosecution also declared that all relevant documentation had been disclosed. The Special Criminal Court, mistakenly, accepted these assurances.
On Friday 18 July 2003, the Prosecution disclosed documents which contradicted Mr. Rupert’s statement in the book of evidence. In his written statement, Mr. Rupert alleged that I attended an IRA Army Council meeting on 17 February 2000. However in contrast, the recently disclosed Garda surveillance reports situate me at my home on this date.
The recent disclosure of these extremely important surveillance reports, on the twenty-second day of the trial, have rendered worthless the assurances of Chief-Superintendent Callinan and the Prosecution. Why were these relevant legal documents concealed for two and a half years on grounds of national security, only to be subsequently considered eligible for disclosure on Friday 18 July 2003, twenty two days into the trial and after Mr. Rupert had presented his evidence? Clearly, the disclosure of these documents was in no way detrimental to national security. However, prompt disclosure was detrimental to an effective prosecution of this case and to the advantage of the Defence. Perhaps here lies the true reason for concealment?
Furthermore, how could Chief-Superintendent Callinan and the Prosecution claim, during the four-day disclosure hearing, that all relevant material had been disclosed? Clearly this was not the case. The Defence prepared its case on the basis of Mr. Rupert’s statement in the book of evidence. If these surveillance reports had been promptly disclosed prior to the commencement of the trial, the Defence would have reassessed its strategy, the presentation of its case and its cross-examination of Mr. Rupert. Indeed Mr. Hugh Hartnett SC informed the court that the withholding of these documents ‘had irreparably damaged’ and ‘disadvantaged and disabled’ the Defence case ‘to a significant extent’. The Prosecution cannot claim that they did not have ample requests for disclosure. Nor can they point to an oversight. Clearly, somebody took a decision to withhold this information which directly undermined Mr. Rupert’s credibility as a witness. I find this totally unacceptable. But these developments pose a further serious question: What other material has been withheld from the Defence?
In its ruling on the four-day disclosure hearing of October 2002 the Special Criminal Court accepted the assurances of Chief-Superintendent Callinan and the Prosecution, when they stated that all relevant material had been disclosed. But in light of the recent disclosure of key surveillance reports on 18 July 2003, how can the Special Criminal Court disregard the fact that its willingness to accept these assurances was a monumental error which ‘disadvantaged and disabled’ the Defence case?
However my difficulties were not confined to improprieties regarding the disclosure of Garda surveillance reports. As Prosecuting Counsel, Mr. George Birmingham stated the success of the Prosecution’s case ‘would significantly turn on the credibility of the key witness, Mr. Rupert’. A man who, according to his own testimony, claimed to be motivated by ‘moral teachings’. Yet as Defence Counsel pointed out during the course of the trial, Mr. Rupert was an amoral man with a ‘criminal and smuggling past’. A man motivated solely by financial self-aggrandisement and who, to quote Mr. Hugh Hartnett SC, ‘had perjured himself during his three weeks in the witness-box’.
In May 1997 the FBI offered Mr. Rupert’s services to MI5. When Mr. Rupert was introduced to MI5 he described himself as ‘a whore’ who was primarily motivated by money. Furthermore, a MI5 document dated 10 August 2000 details how Mr. Rupert described himself as ‘a mercenary’ during the course a meeting with his MI5 handlers. This proved to be a revealing and apposite self-characterisation. In the same document Mr. Rupert confided to MI5, and I quote, “I am a mercenary so to speak, tell me what to do, make it worth my while and as long as the benefit overrides the risk in my view it will be done to the best of my ability”. Hardly the utterances of a man guided by ‘moral teachings’.
Furthermore, in a document detailing a meeting between MI5, the FBI and An Garda Siochana on the 21st July 1999, Assistant Garda Commissioner Jennings ineloquently referred to Mr. Rupert as ‘a bullshitter’ and declared that ‘he continued to be dismissive about the reporting from Rupert provided by the British Intelligence Services’.
Nevertheless, on 28 November 2000, Mr. Rupert met several MI5 agents at a secure location in America. At this meeting Mr. Rupert was informed that he would have to make a statement to the Gardai. He was also informed that I would be arrested, questioned on the basis of his statement and subsequently charged with directing, and membership of, an illegal organisation. This discussion with MI5 took place almost six weeks before Mr. Rupert made his statement to the Gardai [9th Jan 2001] and three months before my arrest [29 March 2001]. Clearly, MI5 instructed Mr. Rupert to structure his statement to conform to their agenda and with a view to bolstering the charges that were subsequently laid before me in the indictment. From the outset, it was evident that Mr. Rupert’s primary interest was financial gain. His word was pliable and his statements and testimony were easily moulded by the guarantee of lucrative MI5 and FBI financial contracts. Furthermore, the court heard how Mr. Rupert’s lucrative book contact was predicated upon a successful conclusion of this trial. Surely, these combined inducements are tantamount to a financial incentive to sensationalize and provide incriminating testimony?
Notwithstanding the details surrounding Mr. Rupert’s murky past, the discrepancies between certain MI5 documents and Mr. Rupert’s testimony were simply beyond belief. A MI5 document, disclosed on 15 April 2002, refers to Mr. Rupert’s ‘criminal and smuggling background’. However, Mr. Rupert, in his Garda statement of 9 January 2001 and his testimony before the Special Criminal Court, denied any such ‘criminal and smuggling past’. I ask myself was Mr. Rupert’s evidence in relation to this matter untruthful or was the author of the MI5 document deliberately misleading the Defence? We shall never know the opinion of the MI5 author, as he/she could not be compelled to appear before this court.
Furthermore, there are strong indications that MI5 documents were being tampered with in order to enhance the prosecution of this case. In a MI5 typed note dated 8 February 2001, which was disclosed to the Defence, a MI5 officer stated that Assistant Garda Commissioner Jennings urged that certain reports, and I quote, ‘be removed’. The MI5 officer then informed Assistant Garda Commissioner Jennings that other ‘trickinesses’ in certain reports were being addressed. Evidently, an Assistant Garda Commissioner was pro-actively engaged with MI5 in manipulating, in advance, the evidence which might be presented by the gardai to the DPP to justify my arrest and arraignment. Is this not a clear example of interference with evidence in order to bolster the prosecution of this case?
Throughout, MI5 has been central to this case. Indeed, for the past six weeks several members of MI5 have colonised a significant section of the Special Criminal Court and have previously been afforded facilities within the confines of the courthouse to facilitate the storage of documents. In my opinion this is nothing short of a national scandal. MI5’s deployment of Mr. Rupert in the twenty-six counties also raises other more serious questions which affect the welfare of every Irish citizen. When was the Dublin government informed that this MI5 agent was operating in Ireland? Did the Dublin government have prior knowledge and grant subsequent approval? The Special Criminal Court is no more than a stone’s throw from Parnell Street, which in May 1974 was just one location targeted by the MI5 during the Dublin-Monaghan bombings. For the Dublin government to be assisting MI5 more than twenty-nine years after this tragic event is nothing short of contemptible. But this fact also raises one further salient question: How many more MI5 agents are currently operating in the twenty-six counties with the Dublin government’s approval? These are salient questions which must be answered.
My conviction was primarily predicated upon the concealment of vital evidence, the testimony of an MI5 paid perjurer and a joint investigation by MI5, the FBI and the Gardai, which was conducted with impropriety and involved the planting of evidence in my home and interference with documentation.
From the outset I never expected to find Justice in the Special Criminal Court. Since its inception the Special Criminal Court has shown itself to be a discredited house of law and devoid of Justice. In this regard my expectations were confirmed, as I was systematically denied a fair trial throughout the past six weeks. However, I am determined to take my case before another court in an attempt to overturn this flawed judgement and to attain Justice.