Supreme Court to hear alleged dissident republican’s appeal against extradition

Seán Walsh is wanted in Northern Ireland to face charges of IRA membership stemming from a 2020 police surveillance operation

File photo dated 19/11/18 of the entrance to HMP Maghaberry in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland's high-security prison for men which houses a mixture of convicted prisoners and those who are yet to be tried. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 26, 2018. See PA story ULSTER Prisoners. Photo credit should read: Michael Cooper/PA Wire

An alleged member of a dissident republican paramilitary group has persuaded the Supreme Court to hear his appeal against an order permitting his extradition to the UK.

Seán Walsh (56) is wanted in Northern Ireland to face charges of IRA membership stemming from a police surveillance operation on a meeting of senior paramilitaries in Omagh, Co Tyrone, in July 2020.

Fighting the extradition request, Mr Walsh submitted to the Supreme Court that he faces a real risk of being subjected to covert surveillance of his legal consultations and phone calls while detained in Maghaberry Prison, Co Antrim.

This, he argued, would be a breach of his rights, including his constitutional rights under Article 38, which requires criminal trials to be conducted in accordance with law.


He also contends his rights would be breached as legislation provides that people convicted of terrorism offences are not permitted release under licence at the half-way point of their sentence was found to be incompatible with Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) but nevertheless remains in force.

The High Court rejected Mr Walsh’s submission that recent the British government’s actions cause a concern that the UK government will not respect their commitments to the ECHR.

In resisting the application for a direct appeal to the Supreme Court, the Irish Minister for Justice contended that Article 7 was not engaged in this case.

The lawfulness of the legislation governing terrorism offences is to be examined by the UK Supreme Court, which is more appropriately placed to consider the matter than the Irish Supreme Court, the Minister added.

A Supreme Court panel, comprising Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne, Ms Justice Marie Baker and Mr Justice Brian Murray, found a matter of general public importance arises in the appeal.

The court granted leave to appeal on the issue of whether it would be a breach of Article 38 of the Constitution for Mr Walsh to be sent to Northern Ireland to face charges over 2021 events in circumstances where the law governing sentence remission has changed in a way that potentially adversely affects his interests.

It will also consider the question arising under Article 7 of the ECHR.

Mr Walsh, of Ballinlough, Douglas, Co Cork, faces four charges including that he was an IRA member, that he was involved in directing IRA activities and that he was involved in a conspiracy to direct a terrorist organisation.

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan

Ellen O'Riordan is an Irish Times reporter