The Special Criminal Court Ireland – What is it?

The Special Criminal Court in Ireland (SCC), is a distinctive judicial institution. It plays a crucial role in dealing with serious criminal offenses. The SCC was established under the Offences against the State Act in 1972. It was specifically designed to address the challenges posed by threats to national security and organized crime. The SCC holds a unique place within the Irish legal system, possessing both advantages and drawbacks that contribute to its controversial nature.

Features of the Special Criminal Court Ireland

One of the key features of the Special Criminal Court is its composition. The Special Criminal Court in Ireland is made up of three judges (High/Circuit and District Court). This tripartite bench ensures a diversity of perspectives and expertise. This composition ensures the court’s ability to comprehend complex and sensitive cases effectively.

Needs of Justice -v- Transparency 

Another salient feature of the SCC is its ability to hold trials in camera, meaning that proceedings are conducted behind closed doors. This measure is taken to protect sensitive information, safeguard witnesses, and ensure the safety of judges. While critics argue that this restricts transparency and open justice, it is important to note that the SCC operates under strict rules of evidence and impartiality. This in essence minimises the potential for abuse and maintains a semblance of fairness and due process.


The Special Criminal Court also possesses jurisdiction over a wide range of offenses. Terrorism, organized crime, and offenses against the state form the significant focus of the SCC’s operations. By specializing in these areas, the court is able to concentrate its resources and expertise. This ultimately ensures a more efficient and effective administration of justice in cases that have far-reaching societal implications. In doing so, the SCC aims to offer a swift and just resolution to complex criminal matters. This helps considerably in maintaining public confidence in the judicial system.


However, despite its advantages, the SCC has faced significant criticism regarding its potential infringement on civil liberties. Critics argue that the closed nature of the court can result in unchecked authority. Thus undermining the right to a fair and public trial.

Concerns have recently been raised about the potential for abuse of power by the state, as the SCC operates outside the mainstream judicial system. Public concerns highlight the delicate balance that must be struck between protecting national security and upholding the rights and freedoms of individuals within a democratic society.

Neil Manley Solicitors – Special Criminal Court Ireland

At Neil Manley Solicitors, we have experienced defence solicitors with a speciality in criminal defence proceedings before the Special Criminal Court Ireland. Whether it be terrorism charges or organised crime, our team of experienced solicitors, have the knowledge and first rate understanding of the Special Criminal Court in Ireland to defend you or your family member appropriately.