The Irish Government introduced Supergrass evidence in the Sallins case. British and Irish Government security policy dovetailed in the 1970s. Special laws and special courts were introduced to more easily secure convictions. Supergrass trials was one of those tactics used.
Evidence from an alleged fellow-law breaker was allowed in court to convict a LIST of suspects, without any corroborating evidence. In the Sallins Case, a Garda list of suspects led to 40 arrests and the torture of 11 to get corroboration of that list. The false and untrue inculpatory statements that followed the torture were the only evidence presented in the Sallins Case.
4,000 YEARS JAIL TERM
A small number of Supergrasses, were used in NI from to 1981 to 1985. All trials were before the Diplock non-jury courts.
In that period 600 persons were convicted. They were sentenced to around 4,000 accumulative years. Over 90% were later released on appeal. This was a security replacement for internment without trial, which had failed, and turned the nationalist population against Britain.
The Irish Government contemplated (1972) but rejected the use of Internment because of its failure in the North and the general consequent popular opposition in the South.
However, they expanded evidence (the word of a senior Garda as proof of paramilitary membership etc) that could be accepted by the Special Criminal Court to increase convictions.
The FF-FG Coalition (73-77) tried to introduce Supergrass evidence in the South, albeit with a difference. A ‘Garda List’ replaced the evidence of a Supergrass. Corroboration of names on the list by (tortured) detainees would serve as ‘proof.’
Government row with DPP
The Sallins Case was meant to be the entry point to this policy in the South. The only evidence produced to determine the arrest of over 40 people in 1976 was a ‘Garda list,’ from a secretive source. When some of those arrested signed inculpatory statements, corroborating the Garda List, the Minister for Justice called the DPP argueing and remonstrating for the charging of all on the Garda List- if ‘corroborated’ by ‘confessions’ of anyone.
This Supergrass/Garda List trial was also intended to stunt/ destroy an opposition registered political party (IRSP).
Once successful, it was then intended to roll it out against any opposition group in Ireland, at will.
The DPP refused to play along, stating no law allowed that. He was promptly put under 24/7 surveillance by the Government. The DPP later stated no one in the Sallins case should ever have been prosecuted.