The trial of éirígí party member Stephen Murney failed to start this morning in Belfast. Although Tuesday 21st January was the trial date that had been confirmed at a previous hearing held on November 25th, no judge was available to hear the case.
It further emerged, at a separate pre-trial application by Stephen’s defence team, also held this morning, that prison authorities had failed to transport Stephen from Maghaberry to the court.
éirígí’s Pádraic Mac Coitir, who attended the court this morning along with Stephen’s family and other party members, criticised the failure of the authorities to ensure the case went ahead as planned. Leinster House TDs Clare Daly and Mick Wallace were among those who also attended the court for the trial.
Speaking outside Laganside court-house, Mac Coitir said, “Stephen’s case had been formally listed two months ago to be heard today yet the prison authorities managed to ensure that he did not appear in court. To compound this injustice even further, it then emerged that there was no judge available to hear the full case.
“Stephen’s family, his legal team and others, including two Leinster House TDs, had travelled to the court in the full expectation that this trial would take place as planned. Instead, they faced a farcical scenario which has only served to compound the whole sense of injustice surrounding this case against Stephen ever since he was first arrested and imprisoned at the beginning of December 2012.”
Concluding, Mac Coitir said, “Very grave concerns have continuously been expressed about the whole background to Stephen Murney’s arrest and imprisonment. Those concerns have now been further added to by the whole off-hand approach taken by the judiciary and prison authorities.
“As a party, éirígí has always held the view that Stephen’s imprisonment on spurious charges has been a form of internment by remand. Today’s farce at Laganside courts clearly vindicates our party’s position.”