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Co. Mayo, Ireland: Questionable Arrests Continue

by | Wednesday, 25th January 2017
In precisely the same part of Ireland as the Dochertys faced much of their worst lawless persecution, a local anti-corruption campaigner has just been arrested in highly questionable circumstances.

In the Docherty family's litany of persecution in Ireland, much of the worst conduct by gardaí (police), social workers and court figures emanated from County Mayo in the north-west of the Republic in 2014-15. In particular, they experienced great unlawfulness while resident on Achill Island off the west coast, a remote and partly Irish-speaking island belonging to Co. Mayo.

As it would happen, anti-corruption campaigner Stephen Manning of Integrity Ireland was also a resident of Achill Island for several years, and in the same timeframe as the Dochertys experienced similarly inexplicable persecution by local authorities. Space does not permit the rehearsal of his whole case here, which is written up on the aforementioned website. The below details are a mere fraction of what Mr Manning has encountered. They are provided to give readers a sense of how many of the same techniques of judicial and public-service lawlessness inflicted on the Dochertys have been seen in other local cases when embarrassment to authorities is at stake.

Mr Manning first encountered difficulties when he rubbed up some established Co. Mayo figures the wrong way, namely the Collins brothers, second cousins to Ireland's Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny, who happens to represent Co. Mayo in Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish Parliament). After years of frustration and stonewalling by the statutory authorities, Mr Manning used the unique provisions of Ireland's legal system to appear as a lay litigant (i.e. prosecutor who is not a lawyer), seeking private prosecutions against those who he alleges have engaged in criminal conduct against himself and his family.

While all common-law jurisdictions (although with almost total restrictions in Scotland due to the power wielded by the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) provide for private prosecutions, the Republic of Ireland's lay litigant route to lodging court cases is particularly effective. It arises from the historical provisions for "common informers" and cannot be abolished, as the Dublin Supreme Court has upheld its provisions, but it provides such means for embarrassment of the Irish authorities that it seems Mr Manning has been regularly targeted to prevent him from lodging cases.

During the protracted harassment he faced on Achill, Mr Manning was maliciously accused (among other difficulties he faced) of impropriety regarding the changing rooms of a youth football club on the island, and has cleared his reputation in two court cases on that matter.

On 2 September 2015, a hearing in a case involving Mr Manning broke down in disorder, after which he found himself charged with disorderly conduct, which he strenuously denies. That case rumbles on to the present. Crucial parts of the audio recordings (known in the Irish court system as DAR) of the disorderly incident miraculously "went missing", as has happened in countless British police station and courtroom cases, but somehow the gardaí and Courts Service staff were able later to quote verbatim in a Mayo courtroom exactly what had been said, with precise timestamps, during the crucial "lost" section of the fracas.

For this reason among others, all painstakingly documented, Integrity Ireland has consistently maintained that gardaí, and staff of the Courts Service and of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, have perjured themselves. Integrity Ireland also maintains that judges in this and other cases have acted contrary to their oath and to the common law which is so prized in Ireland (for evidence from this week of the flagrancy of abuse of court process in Ireland, in an unrelated case, see Ben Gilroy's latest video update).

It is Mr Manning's attempts during January 2017 to gain leave to appeal to the Dublin Supreme Court which appear to have prompted the latest series of steps against him. His newest court documents name ODPP staff, a Garda superintendent and Courts Service staff as having demonstrably listened to the "lost" recordings of the fracas in which he found himself involved in 2015, and his attempts to have those same officials take receipt of his documents have been repeatedly thwarted, with seven judges refusing point blank to handle them, some even running out of their chambers when approached by him. Specifically, Mr Manning had very recently announced to the Supreme Court his intention to name Judge McCarthy in an alleged criminal conspiracy against him which also implicated officials of all three of the aforementioned public institutions. His last action with the Dublin Supreme Court had been an attempt to have it issue an order to the Courts Service directing the latter to cooperate with his lawsuit, which named a registrar of the Courts Service as having obstructed him unlawfully by refusing to process his documents.

Having been given a court date of Thursday 26 January for his appearance in Castlebar, Co. Mayo, on his supposed Section 6 public order offence relating to the 2015 court episode, Mr Manning went on a visit to Dublin last weekend. He was called at 11 am on Monday 23 January by Castlebar gardaí, demanding to know why he had not turned up for his hearing, which they insisted he had been notified would be held that day and for which Judge Aeneas McCarthy was "sitting right now". He insisted that he and his fellow defendant in the Castlebar case, Colm Granahan (together with whom he had summoned a Garda in May 2015 to testify, who had failed to appear in court for either of their cases), had been given the date of this Thursday for their appearance. Later in the day, he returned to Co. Mayo.

Mr Manning was arrested at 5:04 pm on Monday by gardaí at Ballyhaunis Railway Station, Co. Mayo, on his return from Dublin. The three policemen who approached him arrested him for "contempt of court", a charge which has been wide open to judicial abuse in the Republic of Ireland for at least a generation and which, uniquely among common-law jurisdictions, now has precedents in Ireland for being invoked when a judge is spoken to civilly outside court buildings on the street.

The "contempt of court" arrest order, which was signed by Judge McCarthy as a bench warrant, related to Mr Manning's alleged failure to appear at Castlebar Courthouse that same morning. The warrant contains, as an assertion of fact, the note that it had previously been successfully served on Mr Manning and that he had thus been legally subpoenaed. He was held overnight at Claremorris Garda Station. The gardaí took Judge McCarthy's word against Mr Manning's that he had been notified of the court date being 23 January.

"Warrants" and "subpoenas" served on Mr Manning's fellow litigant Colm Granahan in related matters have likewise been unlawfully delivered or not at all. Irregularities with warrants have reached epidemic proportions in Ireland (as in all United Kingdom jurisdictions), and the issuing of improper warrants by local councils (a separate category of case from Mr Manning's) has even been condemned by the Dublin Supreme Court lately.

Mr Manning had recently accused Judge McCarthy, in a writ for judicial review at the High Court in Dublin, of the following:

Judge Aeneas McCarthy presiding in the said case has;
(1) acted in excess and breach of his jurisdiction as a District Court Judge;
(2) that the Respondent has failed to observe constitutional and natural justice; and
(3) has likewise failed to act according to his legal duty inasmuch as the following Articles of the Irish Constitution and the European Convention on Human Rights have been breached, as well as the laws and principles of common law and natural justice.

Calls to Claremorris Garda Station by journalists in the Netherlands and Germany yesterday morning regarding the lawfulness of Mr Manning's detention were handled politely but reticently.

Mr Manning appeared in Castlebar Courthouse at 10 am yesterday (Tuesday 24th January 2017) and was given a two-month custodial sentence, suspended by means of making him sign a recognisance. The conviction proceeded despite his not having lodged a defence or even entered a plea, and despite his not having Legal Aid, which Judge McCarthy had given him one hour (sic) to try to find. Mr Granahan was sentenced in absentia at the same time. He was unable to attend because he was undergoing heart surgery that very day.

The Irish Examiner reported in 2011 that Mr McCarthy was previously a prominent criminal lawyer in Limerick in south-western Ireland and that, once made a judge, he was keen to sit in various district court areas. This phenomenon of hypermobile Irish district and circuit court judges has been seen in the Docherty case (as noted in the transcript at the first link above), as well as becoming increasingly common in England and Wales in politically sensitive trials. McCarthy is one of surprisingly many "movable judges of the District Court" listed nationally.

The first ever history of the Dublin Supreme Court by Ireland's leading legal correspondent Ruadhán MacCormaic, published late last year, contains several passages describing the blatantly party-political nature of the horse trading which is often resorted to when Irish judge slots are to be filled, such as the following:

Political patronage was less of a factor the higher up the courts chain a vacancy arose, but at the lower courts, in particular the District Court, lobbying was intense. Local solicitors would contact their TDs [teachtaí Dála, members of parliament], who would call or write to ministers or their advisers to convey the message. Candidates’ election agents would seek preferment on the basis of their service to the party. Family members of would-be judges would turn up at weekend hurling matches, where they would, supposedly by accident, bump into a TD or a minister.

The Integrity Ireland project (which is an Unincorporated Association, registered in Ireland under ‘Class 45: Provision of information services pertaining to citizens' rights’ has recently been named, along with Mr Manning personally, as parties to an alleged 'defamation' in a somewhat bizarre civil lawsuit undertaken by another District Court Judge, James Faughnan that has been widely discussed on social media, in what appears to be a contrived and technically unlawful attempt to silence criticism of the Irish judiciary.

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