In regards Seamus Daly on his arrest and prosecution in relation to his alleged involvement in the Omagh Bombing 15th August 1998 and the attempted bombings of Lisburn on 30th April 1998:
- We Maintain that the PSNI case being brought against him is flawed and his continued prosecution in this matter violates his human rights.
- We Maintain that the case against him, being brought by the PSNI contains serious inconsistencies which are contributing to the denial by the State of his right to a fair trial in relation to these offences and consequently his right to liberty.
- We Maintain that the prosecution has insufficient evidence to satisfy the criminal law standard of proof of guilt ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’. The PSNI accepted under a cross examination at the first bail application brought on behalf of Seamus Daly on 11th April 2014 that no new evidence has been found over a period of 14 years since the Omagh Bombing of 1998. These charges are therefore being brought on a review of available evidence rather than any new material.
Senior Prosecutors working on the case in 1999 would have examined whether there was a reasonable prospect of a conviction against Seamus Daly but the fact that no proceedings were initiated at the time demonstrates that the prosecution came to the conclusion that there was no prospect of a successful conviction at that time. This conclusion, therefore, continues to exist now, consequently, we consider that there is no evidential basis to support the charges being brought against Seamus Daly then or now. Why was he not arrested before if evidence was available?
Furthermore the prosecution case relates to the PSNI failure to locate him before the 7th of April 2014. The PSNI claimed that they had difficulty locating Seamus Daly before he was detained. However, statements obtained from neighbours of Seamus in Jonesborough, Newry, confirm that Seamus Daly has been living there openly for the last number of years. These witnesses include the school crossing-warden for Jonesborough Primary School, who saw Seamus Daly and his wife passing her every morning, and the parish priest Father Dermot Maloney who ‘would have met Seamus regularly about the area’. Father Maloney celebrated Seamus Daly’s wedding in 2012 and confirms his attendance at his son’s confirmation the year previous.
Seamus Daly has now been detained for over 15 months. He has yet to have a committal hearing. This failure to advance a prosecution against him violates his right to a fair trial within a reasonable period under Article 6 of the ECHR. It also violates his right to liberty under Article 5 of the ECHR. If custody time limits were binding in the North of Ireland as they are in England and Wales, Seamus Daly would have been released at least five times over by now. In the case of McFarlane v. Ireland (2010), the ECtHR held that legal proceedings of excessive length constituted a breach of the ‘reasonable time’ requirement under the ECHR. This undue delay in bringing the case against Seamus Daly to trial is a breach of his right to a fair trial under Article 6 of the ECHR and his right to liberty under Article 5.
Seamus Daly understood that at his initial bail application his committal hearing would occur in July 2014. This timetable has not been adhered to. There is now supposedly a committal date, which set for the 18th August 2015.
The gravity of a criminal act should not undermine the human rights of an individual. This balance must be respected and guaranteed in a society that respects the rights of an individual and wants to up hold the Rule of Law whilst protecting the victims of crime.
Further to this we believe that this case has been subject to a trial by media before it has been tried in a court. This does little to reinforce the principle of Justice “innocent until proven guilty”. Perversely certain elements of the media have presented a case of “guilty until proven innocent”. What we have seen is the media conduct a separate investigation and build public opinion even before the court takes cognisance of the case. While this continues, it is incumbent upon this committee to continue presenting information to the Public. Just as the media have a right to investigate and publish articles on the case, so too do we have a right of reply.