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Irish Court of Criminal Appeal
You are here: BAILII >> Databases >> Irish Court of Criminal Appeal >> D.P.P.-v- Stephen Birney, Patrick Brennan, Thomas Gilson, Sean O'Donnell, John Troy  IECCA 58 (12 May 2006)
Cite as:  1 IR 337,  IECCA 58
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Judgment Title: D.P.P.-v- Stephen Birney, Patrick Brennan, Thomas Gilson, Sean O'Donnell, John Troy
Composition of Court: Hardiman J., Gilligan J., Dunne J.
Judgment by: Hardiman J.
Status of Judgment: Approved
Outcome: Refuse applications
- 47 -
THE COURT OF CRIMINAL APPEAL
Hardiman J. 57/05, 54/05, 55/05, 56/05, 53/05.
STEPHEN BIRNEY, PATRICK BRENNAN, THOMAS GILSON, SÉAN O’DONNELL and JOHN TROYApplicants
THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC PROSECUTIONS
JUDGMENT of the Court delivered by Hardiman J. the 12th day of May, 2006.
On the 21st February, 2005, each of the above-named applicants was convicted of the offence of membership of an unlawful organisation namely the Irish Republican Army, otherwise Oglaigh Na hEireann, otherwise the IRA, on the 11th October, 2002. These convictions were recorded after a trial which lasted 25 days. Each of the accused appeals his conviction and that is the sole matter with which the Court is presently concerned. There are certain appeals against sentence which, if necessary, will be dealt with at a later date.
There was a considerable volume of evidence relating to the activities of the accused on the evening of the 10th October, 2002, and the early hours of the following morning. This related to the whereabouts of the accused, the company each was in, and the contents of a van and a car with which they could be associated. In certain cases there was other evidence including tattoos on certain of the accused and the contents of the home of one of them. This evidence was not controverted and is summarised below.
A Detective Garda Masterson lives at Corke Abbey, Bray, Co. Wicklow. On the 10th October, 2002, while off duty, he witnessed certain movements of vehicles and persons in Corke Abbey. The movements appeared to him to be suspicious. The vehicles in question were a dark blue Nissan Almeira car, a Nissan Micra car and a Ford Transit van. Five persons arrived in the Micra, got out of it, and some got into the transit van. They got into the rear compartment of the van. The other two spoke to the original occupants of the transit van and then got back into the Micra and left. Then another person arrived in a taxi and got into the van.
Detective Garda Masterson made his suspicions known to the gardaí at Shankhill. As a result of this an unmarked garda vehicle manned by Garda Twomey and Garda Mannion approached the van. They spoke to the driver who gave a false name: this was the applicant Patrick Brennan. While conversing with him the gardaí noticed a black balaclava and a handset of a portable radio on the floor of the van. They summoned assistance. One of the gardaí opened the door into the rear compartment of the van, which was unlocked. There he found four men sitting on the floor. Around them in the rear compartment of the van were a number of items which included.
- a lump hammer,
- two pick axe handles,
- a torch,
- eight plastic bags of cable ties,
- one black balaclava with a single opening for the face,
- two black balaclavas with three holes for the face,
- two identical navy blue cloth ties, resembling those worn by gardaí,
- a sky blue shirt marked “Security”,
- a yellow jacket with “Garda” inscribed on the left breast,
- gloves including black woollen gloves and plastic industrial
- three walkie talkie type radios.
Two of the men at the back of the van namely Thomas Gilson and Séan O’Donnell were dressed in clothing similar to that of members of An Garda Síochána.
The five occupants of the transit van were arrested by members of An Garda Síochána under the provisions of s.15 of the Theft and Fraud Act, 2001.
The gardaí also examined the Nissan Almeira car which was at the scene in Corke Abbey. It transpired that the number plates on this car were false. In it were found the following relevant items:
“ - a beacon like a garda blue flashing light,
- a canister of CS gas,
It transpired that two of the accused had the words “Oglaigh Na hEireann” tattooed on their bodies. These were Stephen Birney who had the words tattooed on his left upper arm and Séan O’Donnell who had it tattooed on his right upper arm where he also had a tattoo of a cross with Irish flags on both sides. Mr. Gibson had a tattoo of “Ireland” on his right upper arm and Mr. Troy a tattoo of an armalite rifle on his right upper arm with the name “Rhonda” written through it.
Subsequently, the home of Stephen Birney was searched. In it was found a mirror inscribed “Oglaigh Na hEireann” which had six signatures on the rear purporting to be those of IRA members, a photograph of five men in combat clothing bearing the words “Victory to the IRA” and a picture of a number of masked men who would seem to be armed at a funeral.
Having been arrested, the applicants were all brought to Bray Garda station. After some delay during which the items seized were examined by the member in charge, they were detained under the provisions of s.4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, which detention was subsequently extended. After the conclusion of this s.4 detention they were arrested under the provisions of s.30 of the Offences against the State Act. This detention was also subsequently extended. Each of the accused was questioned in interviews during which the provisions of s.2 of Offences against the State Amendment Act, 1998, were invoked. Each accused was told that if he failed to answer material questions, inferences might be drawn from this failure or refusal, but each refused to answer any questions. Amongst the questions asked, and frequently repeated, was the question “Are you a member of the IRA?”. At the trial, pursuant to the Offences against the State Act, Chief Superintendent Philip Kelly, the head of the Special Detective Unit, gave evidence of his belief that each of the accused was a member of the IRA. He said that this belief was not in anyway dependent on the facts set out above but was independently grounded. His evidence was not challenged.
Issues on appeal.
As mentioned above, there is no challenge to the facts proved by the prosecution. Instead, a variety of legal points are taken. Although almost all of these points are common to all the accused they are differently numbered in the individual notices of appeal. At the trial, however, counsel for the various applicants made submissions on different points on behalf of his or her own client, and all the other applicants. Additionally, individual points were taken on behalf of three of the applicants. Two of the points raised in the notices of appeal were not pursued. These were a submission that the applicants were not properly or correctly informed of the reason for their arrest, and a submission that the search of the Transit van was unlawful. Other points were only lightly touched on.
The points actually urged on the hearing of the appeal were as follows:
(1) The Special Criminal Court did not have jurisdiction to try the applicants. This point was argued on behalf of all the applicants by Ms. Deirdre Murphy S.C.
(2) The detention of the applicants pursuant to s.4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, was unlawful. This point was argued on behalf of all the applicants by Ms. Aileen Donnelly S.C.
(3) and (4)
The extension of the applicants’ detention pursuant to s.4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, was unlawful; the arrest, detention and subsequent extension of the applicants’ detention pursuant to s.30 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939, was unlawful. These points were argued on behalf of all the applicants by Mr. Niall Durnan S.C.
(5) (6) and (7)
The belief evidence of the Chief Superintendent should not have been admitted in evidence; no adverse inferences from the silence of the applicants in the s.30 interview should be drawn; the trial court failed to give adequate weight to defective legal advice received by certain of the applicants; the trial court erred in making a finding of mutual agreement between the applicants as to how to deal with garda questioning. There was no or no adequate corroboration of the evidence of belief of the Chief Superintendent and in particular neither failure to answer questions nor the activities of the applicants nor any tattoos on any of the applicants constituted such corroboration.
These points were argued by Mr. Paul Burns S.C. on behalf of all applicants.
Mr. George Bermingham S.C. replied on behalf of the Director.
We emphasise that all of these submissions were made on the basis that the evidence of the facts of the case given by the gardaí was accurate. Undoubtedly, it was conceded, this evidence was such as would cause any rational person to be suspicious that the applicants were engaged in crime. But, said Mr. Burns on behalf of all the applicants, that was as far as it went. The facts, he conceded, would give rise to an inference that the applicants were engaged in one or other of a number of forms of criminality but could not rationally give rise to an inference that they were members of an unlawful organisation. The tattoo marks referring to Oglaigh na h-Eireann might, he submitted, be a reference to a part-allegiance, now ended. It will therefore be seen that the submissions, in one sense at least, addressed a very narrow ground.
It is now proposed to examine the submissions individually.
(1) Jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court.
It was submitted by Ms. Deirdre Murphy S.C. that the Special Criminal Court, in the circumstances of the case, lacked the jurisdiction to try the applicants and each of them. She said that the Special Criminal Court was a creature of statute which had no general or inherent jurisdiction other than what was conferred by statute. This is undoubtedly so, apart from the general adjectival jurisdiction that inheres in any court. Equally, it was agreed on the hearing of the appeal that the Special Criminal Court was established under Part V of the Offences against the State Act, 1939. By s.43 of the Act, the jurisdiction of the Special Criminal Court is “to try and convict or acquit any person lawfully brought before that Court for trial under this Act”. Ms. Murphy’s submissions were directed to the words emphasised. These applicants, she said, were not lawfully brought before the Court.
How the applicants were brought before the Court.There is no dispute as to the method actually used (whether validly or not) to bring the applicants before the Special Criminal Court. This was s.4(3) of the Criminal Law Act, 1997, which provides as follows:
It appears that the power conferred by s.4(3) is merely a modern formulation of the Common Law power of arrest for felony.
Attack on jurisdiction.It was said that s.4 of the 1997 Act, had no place in the “statutory code” governing the jurisdiction and procedures of the Special Criminal Court. This code consists, said Ms. Murphy, of the Offences against the State Acts, 1939 to 1998. Even if the Court finds against this submission, said Ms. Murphy, a person who has been arrested under s.4(3) of the 1997 Act cannot be held for the purpose of bringing him before the Special Criminal Court at a later time. Finally, she said, the means actually used to bring the applicants before the Special Criminal Court is prohibited under s.30(A)(1) of the Offences against the State Acts, 1939 to 1998.
The following chronology appears to be agreed in the case of each applicant.
(1) All were arrested around 1am on the 11th October, 2002, in relation to an offence under s.15 of the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act, 2001.
(2) All were brought to Bray Garda station where after an interval (to be discussed when dealing with another ground), each was detained pursuant to s.4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, for the investigation of an offence under the Criminal Justice (Theft and Fraud Offences) Act.
(3) Each detention under the 1984 Act was extended shortly before 7 o’clock on the morning of the 11th October, 2002.
Over the following several hours the gardaí became suspicious that they had interrupted an IRA operation and that the men who were in detention at that time were members of the IRA.
(4) Towards the very end of the extended period of s.4 detention each applicant was released from such detention and very shortly afterwards rearrested and detained under s.30 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939 – 1998 in respect of the offence of membership of an illegal organisation, pursuant to s.21 of that Act. These detentions were all extended on the 12th October, 2002.
(5) At about 9.40pm on the 12th October, 2002, a direction was received from the DPP. The Director ordered that the applicants be brought before the Special Criminal Court and charged with the offence of membership of an unlawful organisation. Shortly after receipt of this direction each applicant was released from the s.30 detention and rearrested almost immediately afterwards under s.4(3) of the Criminal Law Act, 1997, set out above.
Shortly after being arrested under s.4 on the 1997 Act, each applicant was informed that he was brought before the Special Criminal Court the next day for the purpose of being charged with a schedule offence, pursuant to the directions of the DPP.
(6) On the morning of the 13th October, 2002, each applicant was taken from Bray Garda station to the Special Criminal Court where he was charged with the offence of membership.
“Lawfully brought before that Court”.
Ms. Murphy relied, in the first instance, on an extract from Professor’s Walsh’s book Criminal Procedure, at page 981. Speaking of the Special Criminal Court he said:
Ms. Murphy went on, however, to submit that “the statutory code” provided for lawful methods whereby a person may be “lawfully brought” before the Special Criminal Court and listed them as follows:
(i) Where the accused person has been arrested under section 30 of the OASA 1939/1998, he may be charged before the expiry of the statutory detention period provided for under that section. Section 30(4C) of the OASA 1939/1998 permits the gardaí to bring an accused person before the Special Criminal Court during the statutory detention period so that he may there be charged with the aforesaid offence.
Alternatively he may first be charged with the aforesaid offence in the garda station, and then also within the said detention period brought before the Court under section 30(4C): State (Walsh) v. Maguire  IR 372.
(ii) Following the expiry of the period of lawful detention under section 30, an accused person may be released and a warrant for his arrest sought from the Special Criminal Court by the DPP pursuant to section 47(3) of the OASA 1939/1998, so that he may be brought in custody before the Special Criminal Court on the basis of that warrant.
(iii) Thirdly, following the expiry of the period of lawful detention under section 30, the accused person may be released and a summons sought from the Special Criminal Court by the DPP, under Rule 17(1) of the Rules of the Special Criminal Court made pursuant to section 41(1) of the OASA 1939/1998, ordering that the accused person shall attend before the Special Criminal Court.
(iv) The fourth option is that, following the expiry of the period of lawful detention under section 30, the accused person may be released and re-arrested for the same offence for the purpose of being charged with that offence forthwith, under section 30A(3) of the OASA 1939/1998.
She went on to submit that this was an exhaustive list “of the statutory means whereby an accused person may be lawfully brought before the Special Criminal Court pursuant to a direction of the DPP under s.47(1) in respect of a membership offence”. The power of arrest contained in s.4 of the Act of 1997 “is not encompassed in the statutory code governing the jurisdiction and procedures of the Special Criminal Court.” Equally, that power, submitted Ms. Murphy “has no place within the Offences against the State Acts, 1939 to 1998, which is the statutory scheme governing the jurisdiction and procedures of the Special Criminal Court”. She points out, by virtue of s.4(6) of the 1997 Act, that Act left untouched the power of arrest under s.30 of the Offences against the State Act.
Furthermore, she argued that, once there has been an arrest under s.4 of the 1997 Act, the procedure after that is governed by s.15(2) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1951 (as inserted by s.18 of the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 1997 so that a person arrested under the Section without a warrant:
That, she says, never happened in the present case.
On behalf of the prosecution, Mr. George Bermingham relied in the first instance on the decision of the Court of Criminal Appeal in The People v. Kehoe  IR 444. There, the applicant had been brought before the Special Criminal Court while in s.30 detention. He argued that as he had been physically restrained during a shoot out with the Gardaí prior to his arrest, his subsequent purported arrest under s.30 and its later extension was invalid. Therefore, he had been in unlawful custody at the time he was brought to the Special Criminal Court.
The judgment in the Court of Criminal Appeal was delivered by McCarthy J. who commenced his judgment with the observation:
McCarthy J. then recorded that the Special Criminal Court before whom the applicant had been brought “Was satisfied that his jurisdiction as conferred by s.43 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939, is lawfully invoked when, in regard to a scheduled offence, the Director of Public Prosecutions directs that the person be brought before that Court”. McCarthy J. continued:
McCarthy J. also made two other relevant observations:
As to the latter point, it is sufficient to say that there are no circumstances whatever in the present case capable of constituting unfair procedures of breach of constitutional rights so as to invalidate the trial. The applicants have instead addressed an argument to the Court which is wholly technical, as they are entitled to do.
Although Mr. Bermingham was prepared to rely on the passage from the judgment of the Court of Criminal Appeal quoted above, he strongly argued that there was in any event no invalidity, even a technical one, in the manner in which the accused were actually brought before the Court. His argument on this point may be very simply summarised: it is quite true that there are a number of different ways in which an accused may be brought before the Special Criminal Court. The Court’s jurisdiction, however does not depend on any particular one of these ways having been adopted, but only on the accused’s having been “lawfully brought” before the Court. Each accused here was in fact arrested under s.4 of the 1997 Act and it has not been claimed that the offence was not an arrestable offence or that no bona fide suspicion existed to ground the arrest, or that the arrest was otherwise invalid. Upon arrest, the person must normally be brought before a District Court, but s.47, quoted above, permits him to be brought before a Special Criminal Court “… in lieu of being charged with such offence before a justice of the District Court”, once the Director has given a direction to that effect.
Decision on jurisdiction issue and further points.
In the opinion of the Court, no reason has been advanced as to why a person lawfully arrested under s.4 of the 1997 Act may not, pursuant to s.47 of the 1939 Act, be brought before the Special Criminal Court once the direction of the Director of Public Prosecutions has been given. Equally, no reason has been advanced for the proposition that the phrase “lawfully brought” should be interpreted as though it read “lawfully brought in the exercise of any power conferred in the Offences against the State Acts, 1939 to 1998, and not otherwise…”. There is simply no warrant for circumscribing the meaning of the phrase “lawfully brought” in the manner proposed by the applicants.
The applicants, however, make three other points in relation to the s.4 arrest. First it is said that the power of arrest under s.4 cannot be exercised on a person who is in custody or effectively in custody. Secondly it is said that a person arrested under s.4 must be brought before a court forthwith and cannot be further detained for any purpose, even to await the sitting of a court. Thirdly it is said that if a person released from s.30 custody is to be re-arrested under s.4, that re-arrest can only be valid if it is for the purpose of charging him forthwith.
The first submission can be briefly dealt with, for it is grounded on the fallacious proposition that there cannot be an arrest upon an arrest. In
Re Ó Laighelis  IR 93, a substantially similar argument was rejected by Davitt P. who said:
This view is quite consistent with the classic Irish case on the duties of the Gardaí upon an arrest, Dunne v. Clinton  IR 366. The case is too well known to require long citation: it rejected the proposition that an arrested person could (in the absence of any statutory provision in that behalf) be held for the purpose of investigation rather than brought before a court. At page 374 of the report Hanna J. said:
Now, what is a reasonable time after arrest? No hard and fast rule can be laid down to cover every case. It must depend on many circumstances, such as the time and place of the arrest, the number of the accused, whether a Peace Commissioner is easily available and such other matters as may be relevant”.
Finally, it is said that the s.4 arrest was invalid because the applicant was not charged “forthwith”. This submission is based on s.30A(1) and (3) of the Offences against the State Acts, 1939 to 1998. The first subsection creates a general prohibition against a person who was detained pursuant to s.30 but released without any charge having been made against him being arrested again for the same offence. Subsection (3), however provides:
The Court will therefore reject the submission that the Special Criminal Court had no jurisdiction to try the Applicants or any of them.
Delay in detaining applicants.
At or about 1.00 am on the morning of the 11th October, 2002 at Corke Abbey, Bray in the County of Wicklow all five of the applicants were arrested by different members of An Garda Síochána pursuant to the provisions of s. 15 of the Theft and Fraud Act, 2001.
At the Garda Station each of the five applicants was detained under the provisions of s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 (s. 4), their detention subsequently being extended. Section 4(2) of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 provides:
The applicants arrived at the Garda Station at approximately 1.25 am on 11th October, 2002. Sergeant Mythen, the member in charge did not immediately accede to the request of each of the arresting Gardaí that each applicant be detained pursuant to s. 4 of the 1984 Act. Sergeant Mythen proceeded to process each applicant, Mr. Troy at 1.30 am, Mr. Brennan at 1.35 am, Mr. Birney at 1.45 am, Mr. Gilsenan at 1.55 am, and Mr. O’Donnell at 2.05 am, with Mr. O’Donnell being placed in a cell at 2.08 am.
Sergeant Mythen stated in evidence that he did not carry out any investigation and all he wanted to do was to see what was in the van that the applicants had been in. Having done so Sergeant Mythen accepts that he then asked the various arresting Gardaí what they wished him to do and they asked for the applicants to be detained pursuant to s. 4 and he decided that they should be so detained and he proceeded to advise each of the applicants as to what the situation was and that they were being detained pursuant to s. 4 between 2.30 am and 2.39 am on the morning in question. This information was entered in Box 21 of the custody record, in respect of each of the applicants. The applicants accordingly were formerly detained pursuant to s. 4 at time intervals of 22 minutes to 31 minutes following the processing of the last of the applicants at 2.08 am.
The applicants each advance the argument that s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 has to be construed strictly and that this results in a situation whereby on arrival at Bray Garda Station Sergeant Mythen as the member in charge having been asked to do so was not entitled to defer a decision as to whether or not the applicants should be detained pursuant to s. 4. It is submitted that Sergeant Mythen had no power of deferment, no power to consider evidence, no power to investigate the matter and no power for effectively having “a second bite of the cherry”. It is submitted on the applicant’s behalf that the member in charge was bound strictly by the provisions of s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 at the time of arrival of the applicants at Bray Garda Station to take a decision either to detain each applicant pursuant to s. 4 or not as the case maybe. It is contended on behalf of each of the applicants that the applicants detention from the moment they arrived at Bray Garda Station at 1.25 am until each was formerly detained pursuant to s. 4 was unlawful, and that the judgment of the Special Criminal Court (The Court) that they were lawfully detained is an error of law.
At the trial of the action, the Court had the benefit of extensive submissions by counsel on behalf of the applicants.
The Court, in giving judgment in this matter on Tuesday 8th February, 2005, carefully considered the evidence that had been adduced before it and came to the conclusion that while Sergeant Mythen may have used the word ‘refuse’ such a word was used in the context that he wanted to see the items which had been found in the van before making up his mind as to whether or not it was appropriate to detain them pursuant to s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984. The court came to a conclusion in its judgment that Sergeant Mythen’s desire to see the items in question before he decided whether or not to detain the accused was not an investigation of the offence for which each applicant had been arrested. The court came to the conclusion that Sergeant Mythen merely deferred a decision until he had seen the items in question and in the view of the court it was incumbent upon the member in charge to satisfy himself that there were reasonable grounds for believing that the applicant’s detention was necessary for the proper investigation of the offence for which the applicant had been arrested and the court took the view that the wording of s. 4 presupposes an element of consideration on the part of the member in charge before he makes his decision. The court took the view that the member in charge was not a rubber stamp to the extent that he must accede to the request of the arresting Garda without further consideration and the court was further of the view that the member in charge was entitled to make such inquiries as he considered necessary to satisfy himself that it was reasonable to detain the accused.
The court took the view that the decision by Sergeant Mythen to process each applicant one by one was very prudent because it effectively meant that each of the applicants was advised of their rights as soon as possible rather than that they should await Sergeant Mythen’s decision as to whether or not to detain them before they were advised of those rights.
The court accepted that Sergeant Mythen did not literally comply with the provisions of s. 4 of the 1984 Act but the court took the view that the section has to be construed as necessarily allowing a reasonable period to allow the member in charge process the arrested person and a reasonable period to enable the member in charge to satisfy himself that it is appropriate to detain the arrested person.
The court took the view that the time taken by Sergeant Mythen was not at all unreasonable and that accordingly none of the applicants were in unlawful detention between the period when they arrived at Bray Garda Station under arrest and the time that they were ultimately detained pursuant to s. 4.
This Court in its appellate role has to bear in mind that the court had the benefit of seeing and hearing the various witnesses of observing the manner in which their evidence was given and the demeanour of those giving it. Hay v. O’Grady  1 I.R. 210.
The findings of fact made by the court were supported by credible evidence and this Court is of the view that there is no basis in law to interfere with the decision of the court that Sergeant Mythen did not refuse to detain the applicants pursuant to s. 4 but used the word in the context that he wanted to see the items which had been found in the van prior to making up his mind and merely deferred a decision until he had seen the items in question. Further this Court does not see any basis for interfering with the court’s finding that Sergeant Mythen did not carry out an investigation into the matter. This Court is satisfied that the wording of s. 4 presupposes an element of consideration on the part of the member in charge before he takes a decision and agrees with the view as expressed by the court that the member in charge is not a rubber stamp to the extent that he must accede to the request of the arresting Garda without further consideration.
It is quite clear on the factual evidence of this case that there was a continuous process between the applicant’s arrival at Bray Garda Station at 1.25 am, the processing of the applicants which concluded at 2.08 am and their detention pursuant to s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, between 2.30 am and 2.39 am. There was no evidence that Sergeant Mythen dealt with any other matter and the ultimate decision as taken by him in the particular circumstances of this case stems from the arrival of each applicant at Bray Garda Station against a background where five applicants had to be processed and the request to detain each pursuant to s. 4 considered. There is no evidence of any improper motive by the member in charge.
There are a number of significant features in the particular circumstances of this case. There was no unreasonable delay in bringing the applicants following their arrest at Corke Abbey to the Garda station in Bray. There was no unreasonable delay in advising each of the applicants of their constitutional and legal rights which is the cornerstone and basic purpose of the regulations governing the treatment of a person in Garda custody. As has been demonstrated the processing of each of the five applicants who arrived at the Garda station at 1.25am took until 2.08 am to carry out. Professor Walsh in his treatise ‘criminal procedure’ 2002 at paragraph 5.26, makes the interesting observation with regard to s.4;
This Court would accede to the submissions as made on each of the applicants behalf that the member in charge was not as a matter of law entitled to refuse to detain each of the applicants and then carry out his own investigation in order to decide whether to detain each of the applicants pursuant to s.4. In the particular circumstances of this case the undisturbable findings of fact as made by the court are to the effect that there was no refusal to detain and no investigation by Sergeant Mythen.
This Court is further satisfied that against a background where there was no unreasonable delay in the applicants being brought to Bray Garda Station following their arrest, no improper motive on behalf of Sergeant Mythen, no refusal by him to detain the applicants pursuant to
s.4 and no investigation carried out by him, the member in charge cannot be criticised for taking a minimal amount of time to take into account information acquired about the applicants in the course of the booking in process. This Court is satisfied that “arrival at the station” can be given the broader meaning to embrace not just the physical arriving at the station but also the booking in process.
This Court is of the view that it was clearly the intention of the Oireachtas that the member in charge of a Garda Station in circumstances where he is asked to detain a prisoner for the purpose of investigation of an offence pursuant to s. 4 should not merely be a rubber stamp. The role of the member in charge involves both a subjective and objective element and subjectively he must believe that the applicant’s detention is necessary and objectively must be satisfied that there are reasonable grounds for his belief. It is clear that the legislature, notwithstanding that s. 4 of the Act has to be construed strictly, did intend that a reasonable period would have to be allowed to the member in charge to consider his decision following the arrival at the garda station of the arrested person and in the particular circumstances of this case this Court is of the view that there was no departure from the intention of the legislature in the manner in which each of the applicants was dealt with and detained pursuant to s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984, and that each of the applicants was lawfully detained pursuant to s.4.
The Extension of the Applicants Detention pursuant to Section 4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984; the Arrest Detention and subsequent extension of the Applicants Detention pursuant to Section 30 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939.
It is contended by Niall Durnin S.C. on the applicants behalf that the extension of their detention pursuant to s. 4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 was unlawful and further that their arrest detention and subsequent extension of their detention pursuant to s.30 of the Offences Against the State Act 1939 was unlawful and that in effect the applicants should have been charged with membership of an illegal organisation earlier than they were and therefore not exposed to s.4 and s.30 extended detentions.
It is contended that the extension of the applicant’s detention pursuant to s.4 of the Criminal Justice Act 1984 was unlawful because the extension was requested by the member in charge at the Gardaí station and that at the time of the extension the applicant was suspected by the investigating Gardaí of membership of an unlawful organisation.
It was submitted that the member in charge should be independent of the investigation team as his role is to protect the rights of detained prisoners. It was submitted that it is unlawful for the member in charge to be acting as the agent or advocate of the investigative team in obtaining an extension of the applicant’s detention from the Superintendent and that the applicants detention was therefore unlawfully extended.
It is submitted that the trial court erred in law and in fact in holding that the extension of the period of s.4 detention was lawful and was for the proper investigation of the offences for which the applicants were arrested in circumstances where the court determined from the evidence that it was generally suspected by the members of an Gardaí Siochana that the suspects in detentions were members of an unlawful organisation.
It is further contended on the applicants behalf that the arrest, detention and extension of the applicants pursuant to s.30 was unlawful because in effect the applicant should have been charged earlier with the offence of membership of an illegal organisation.
It is contended on the applicants’ behalf that by the time the s. 4 detention was extended at 6.50 a.m. on 11th October, 2002 the member in charge of the Station and the officers in charge of the investigation and the officers of the Special Detective Unit all suspected that the applicants were members of the IRA.
It was submitted on the applicants behalf that in ruling on the s.30 arrests the trial court was unduly influenced by the operational practices of the Gardaí.
It is contended that the various applicants were in unlawful custody for a number of minutes immediately prior to their subsequent arrest pursuant to s.30. It is submitted that the consequences of this unlawful detention is that the applicants arrest under s.30 was unlawful particularly in circumstances where each applicant was only available to be arrested because of the immediately preceding period of unlawful detention and also in the context of all of the other prior illegalities as referred to on the applicants behalf.
If the applicants were in unlawful custody it was for a period of no more than five minutes and no more than two minutes in the case as argued by Ms. Donnelly. Nothing material happened during this period adverse to the applicants and in the circumstances the court regards this very short period as de minimis and of no consequence.
This Court takes the view that there is no substance to the submissions as made on the applicants behalf in regard to these matters.
For the extension of the detention that was involved to be valid what was required was that the Superintendent had reasonable grounds for believing that such further detention was necessary for the proper investigation of the offence. The court of trial found as a fact that the investigation of the offence in respect of which the applicants were arrested was on going at the time of extension and it also found as a fact that it had no doubt but that Superintendent Moynihan had reasonable grounds for believing that an extension of the period was necessary for the proper investigation of the offence. The applicants contention that the trial court erred in holding that the extension of the s.4 detention of the applicants was lawful is rejected.
Section 30(1) of the Offences against the State Act provides as follows;
The court is satisfied that there was no doubt but that the members of an Garda Síochána who at Convent Avenue Bray in the County of Wicklow outside Bray Garda Station arrested the applicants pursuant to
s.30 believed that they had committed the offence of membership of an unlawful organisation. The court is satisfied that the applicants are seeking to append to the section that the powers of the member of the Garda Síochána only applies “provided the person has not previously being arrested under s.4”.
It is clear from the evidence before the trial court that the first arresting members did not at the time of the arrest of the applicants suspect them at that point in time of IRA membership.
The Oireachtas has chosen to restrict re-arrest by reference to the suspicions on the part of the original arresting member at the time of the original arrest. This Court is satisfied that at the time of the original arrest pursuant to s.4 each of the applicants was not suspected of being a member of the IRA.
The submissions made on the applicants behalf in this regard are rejected and this Court is satisfied that each of the applicants arrest detention and extension pursuant to s.30 and the timing of their being charged with membership of an illegal organisation was not unlawful.
The admissibility of belief evidence and associated points.
Strong exception was taken on behalf of all applicants to the admission of the evidence of a member of An Garda Síochána not below the rank of Chief Superintendent to the effect that he believed that each accused was at a material time a member of an unlawful organisation. This objection was taken on several grounds. All related to the proposition that its admission and the alleged practical impossibility of challenging it deprived each applicant of a fair trial. The basis of the Chief Superintendent’s belief will always be such that he is entitled to claim privilege in relation to it. This, it was said, deprives the accused of the right to a fair trial by unreasonably hampering cross-examination and by effectively concealing from the accused, and from the Court, the factual basis of the evidence on which, in part, it is being asked to act.
It is necessary to put this contention in context in two ways: first in terms of the facts of the present case and secondly in terms of the Constitution, the law, and the practise of the Special Criminal Court.
The facts of this case have already been set out. It is perfectly clear that circumstances in which the applicants were arrested are circumstances of obvious grave suspicion. The presence of weapons with which a person could be threatened, gravely assaulted or killed, of clothing suggesting that the wearer was a member the Garda Síochána or a security person, of plastic ties capable of securing a person and rendering him helpless and immobile, of C.S. gas, of face masks, gloves and walkie talkie radios are plainly such as to give rise to a suspicion of criminality. Some of these items were found in a vehicle which had false number plates and tax and insurance discs to match the false number plates. They were in the possession of or available to a group of men who met together in the early hours of the morning, some of whom had bodily markings and one of whom had items bearing the name of an unlawful organisation. There was no material suggestive of the existence of any conceivable innocent explanation of these facts in combination. It was expressly conceded by counsel that these facts would give rise to an inference that the applicants were engaged in one or other of a number of forms of serious criminality. These facts were uncontradicted and were proper to be considered by the Court of Trial. But they could not, it was contended, give rise to an inference that the persons found in the Transit van were members of an unlawful organisation. Specifically, it was alleged, the markings and items bearing the name of an unlawful organisation were equally consistent with representing a previous allegiance to such organisation, now at an end.
Constitutional and legal context.Section 3 of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act, 1972 as amended by s.4 of the Offences against the State (Amendment) Act, 1998 provides as follows:
(1)(a) Any statement made orally, in writing or otherwise, or any conduct
(3) Subsection (2) of this Section shall be in force whenever and for so long only as part V of the Act of 1939 is in force.
The offence of membership of an unlawful organisation, with which all the applicants were charged, was created by s.21 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939. From the statutory definition of “unlawful organisation” it is clear that such organisations of their very nature constitute a threat not only to the institutions of the State but to individuals who are properly prepared to co-operate with the State in convicting members of such organisations. The offence created by s.21 is a scheduled offence so that charges of membership will be heard only by the Special Criminal Court. Accordingly, the provisions of subsection (2), allowing the belief evidence of a Chief Superintendent, apply only so long as there remains in force the declaration envisaged by Article 38.3.1 of the Constitution that “the ordinary courts are inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice…”.
Finally, it is important to note that the constitutionality of s.3(2) of the Offences against the State Amendment Act, 1972, is not in question in these proceedings.
From the context set out above it will be clear that the Court is dealing here with an exceptional provision of limited application relating to matters of great importance and intimately touching the public welfare and the welfare of the State itself. It would therefore be quite inappropriate indiscriminately to apply findings made in that context in other areas of the criminal law.
Turning to the present case, it will be clear that the evidence of the Chief Superintendent was by no means the only evidence to which the Court of trial was entitled to have regard. The uncontradicted facts summarised above plainly constitute “movements, actions, activities or associations…” on the part of the applicants.
Practise of the Special Criminal Court.This Court has been told, and accepts, that it is not the practise of the Special Criminal Court to convict a person of membership of unlawful organisation on the basis of belief evidence, admissible by virtue of s.3(2) of the Act of 1972, alone. Furthermore it appears that it is not the practise of the Director of Public Prosecutions to institute a prosecution based solely on belief evidence. In this case of course there is no question of the Chief Superintendent’s belief being the only evidence against the applicants. Looking at the case as the applicants themselves advanced it, this is a case where there is, admittedly, substantial evidence of criminality against these applicants: the role of the belief evidence of the Chief Superintendent is, at most, to link the general evidence in the case specifically to membership of an unlawful organisation. Even looked at in this way, which is the way favoured by the applicants, the bodily markings and items bearing the name of an unlawful organisation might be regarded as significant, as might the association of the applicants one with the others. But the belief evidence of the Chief Superintendent was tendered and heard.
DPP v. Kelly.
It is also necessary to refer to this recent judgment of the Supreme Court delivered on the 4th April, 2006. This was an appeal brought to the Supreme Court pursuant to a certificate of this Court under s.29 of the Courts of Justice Act, 1924. The certified point of law of exceptional public importance was:
The Court gratefully adopts this view of s.3(2).
The belief evidence in this case.
Chief Superintendent Philip Kelly gave evidence on the seventeenth day of the trial. He said that he was a Chief Superintendent in An Garda Síochána and was in charge of the Special Detective Unit in Harcourt Square. He held that position at the time of the arrest of the applicants, and also of the trial. He said that his work in the Garda Síochána since 1978 had been concerned with the fight against subversion.
The Chief Superintendent’s belief evidence, admissible by virtue of s.3(2) was similar in relation to each of the applicants and no reliance was placed on any distinction. It is therefore sufficient to set out the evidence in relation to the first-named applicant, Mr. Birney. The Chief Superintendent said:
In a cross-examination the Chief Superintendent contended that the information which he had, and which grounded his belief, in each case, was based on confidential information and that he was claiming privilege in respect of the source of the information on the basis that “… if I did disclose it it would endanger life and affect the security of the State…”. He confirmed that he had sources both within and outside the Garda Síochána.
The Special Criminal Court declared that the evidence of the Chief Superintendent was admissible in the case against each applicant but that it’s weight was a matter which would have to be considered by the Court in its capacity as the Tribunal of Fact, bearing in mind the limited scope for cross-examination. In giving the judgment of the Court, on the 21st February, 2005, the President, Mr. Justice O’Donovan, said that:
Special Criminal Court’s findings on the evidence.
In the light of the foregoing it was the submission of the prosecution that the belief evidence of Chief Superintendent Kelly that each one of the accused was, at the material time, a member of the IRA, is corroborated or supported in a number of respects”.
Decision on admissibility.The belief evidence of the Chief Superintendent is specifically rendered admissible by the statutory provisions set out earlier in this judgment. It is quite clear that the Special Criminal Court was fully aware of the unusual nature of this provision and of the difficulties its operation can pose for the defence. The Special Criminal Court was careful to distinguish clearly between the admissibility of the evidence and the weight to be given to it. Given that the constitutionality of the Section permitting the evidence is not in question in these proceedings there seems to be no doubt that it was, in principle, admissible. The Special Criminal Court specifically repeated its established policy of not convicting solely on belief evidence.
In the present case it seems to us that the Chief Superintendent’s evidence was amply corroborated both by the failure to answer to questions and by the general evidence in the case. The Special Criminal Court correctly concluded that that evidence had to be looked at collectively, and not merely in its individual parts. The applicants were congregated together in a van, with the paraphernalia already mentioned, and with the physical marks described. It was conceded that these facts were suggestive of serious criminality. One could indeed go further and say that any reasonable person would be quite satisfied of the criminal nature of their gathering. The role of the Chief Superintendent’s evidence was to connect those facts to the specific offence with which these men were charged. The Chief Superintendent’s evidence was admissible as evidence that each of the applicants was such a member and this view is itself quite consistent with the balance of the evidence. Indeed, it is not merely consistent with it: the balance of the evidence firmly supports and corroborates the Chief Superintendent’s belief, based on sources quite apart from the facts of the present case.
Those facts are themselves strongly suggestive of membership of an unlawful organisation. A group of men, some of whom actually bore the name of an unlawful organisation tattooed on their persons, were gathered together in the suspicious and indeed sinister circumstances established in evidence with the paraphernalia described. In that context they refused to answer clearly relevant questions even when the consequences of their doing so were pointed out to them. It is unnecessary to consider whether these matters, without more, might support the conviction because all that is required that they corroborate the unchallenged opinion of the Chief Superintendent. The Court is quite satisfied that they do so. The nature of corroboration has been recently considered in DPP v. Gilligan (unreported, Supreme Court, 23rd November, 2005). There, Denham J., speaking of corroboration defined the requirements of it as follows:
Alleged incorrect legal advice.
On behalf of certain of the applicants it was alleged that a solicitor who was called to see them gave them advice which was incorrect in point of law. It was said that he had advised that they were not obliged to make a statement unless they wished to do so and failed to explain the statutory regime under which inferences adverse to them might be drawn from failure to answer certain questions. This circumstance, it was said, made it unsafe and inappropriate to draw any inference from the failure to answer questions, notwithstanding that the fact that such inference might be drawn was explained to all the applicants by the Gardaí.
This Court has read the ruling of the Special Criminal Court on this issue, and in particular that Court’s close analysis of the legal advice actually given. We can find no fault in the course adopted by the trial court. But it seems desirable to make certain further observations.
In the first place, it is of course important that a person held in custody for the purpose of an investigation have access, if he wishes, to a legal adviser. Such an adviser, normally a solicitor practising in the locality, must of course be entirely independent of the State and of the Gardaí. Sometimes a person held in custody will have his own solicitor, though there may be logistical difficulties in contacting a specific practitioner for various reasons, notably the time of the day or night when advice is required and the practitioner’s other commitments. In some circumstances a person may be given a list of solicitors or told of certain solicitors available in the locality. But whichever course is adopted it is essential that the advice be quite independent of the State and the Gardaí.
By virtue of this independence, it is difficult to see that the State or the Gardaí can be in any way responsible for the content of the advice given, or for any shortcomings in it.
In this case it is argued that, even if the State and the Gardaí cannot be responsible for the advice given, the fact that certain portions of that advice are allegedly inaccurate should make the Court hesitate to draw any inference from a failure to answer questions.
In the opinion of this Court, that submission is made at an unacceptable level of generality: indeed it is speculative only. Both before and after receiving legal advice all applicants declined any questions of relevance to the inquiry and some declined to answer any questions at all, even questions as to whether they were “alright for water”. This course of action which they had adopted was unaffected by any legal advice received. None of the applicants said to have received incorrect advice gave evidence that this advice was responsible for their failure to answer relevant questions or that it affected their course of action in any way at all. The relevant applicants did not deny that the terms of the statutory provision, whereby adverse inferences might be drawn from a refusal to answer questions, was explained to them.
In other words, there has been a failure on the part of the applicants to engage with the facts of the case or to establish that the advice said to be incorrect had any practical effect. The Court does not find it necessary to repeat the discussion in the Court of Trial as to whether the advice given was actually incorrect, or incomplete. The applicants have simply made no showing at all on the question of any detriment to them from the allegedly incorrect or incomplete advice. This is part of their general policy on this appeal, of failing to engage with the facts of the case at all. It is quite clear that no injustice or unfairness accrued to any applicant by reason of the advice they were given.
There is no substance in the point taken that certain applicants were not told of the unavailability of the solicitor nominated. The proffer of another solicitor clearly implies this information. The availability of the first solicitor was not pursued by any applicant.
A concerted agreement?
On this appeal the applicants criticised the Special Criminal Court for finding that the failure of each and every applicant to answer relevant questions when in detention reflected a concerted policy between the applicants. In all the circumstances of the case, including the initial association between the applicants, this does not appear to us to be an unreasonable inference to draw. We believe, on the other hand, that it was an inference which was open to a court of trial which saw and heard all the witnesses who were called before it. But it is not in our view central to any relevant finding. The ability to draw an inference from a failure to answer certain questions would apply whether the present applicants were tried jointly or severally. Even if tried severally their associations would be a relevant factor to consider. Having regard to the very considerable strength of the general evidence in this case, and the uncontradicted failure of each accused to answer relevant questions, it appears to this Court that there is no need to go further and make a positive finding of a concerted policy as between the applicants to answer no questions, however reasonable and indeed obvious such a finding may seem to some.
A search of First-named applicant’s residence.
A separate ground of appeal was raised in respect of the first named applicant, Stephen Birney, in challenging the validity of a warrant authorising the search of the applicant’s residence.
Section 29(1) of the Offences against the State Act, 1939, as substituted by s.5 of the Criminal Law Act, 1926 provides:
Superintendent Ian Maguire gave evidence that at approximately 6am on 11th October, 2002, he authorised a warrant under s.29 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939 as amended to Detective Sergeant Bill Hanrahan authorising the searching of the residence of the first named applicant herein at 117 Conquer Hill Road, Clontarf, Dublin 3. He also gave evidence that he was at the relevant time a Detective Superintendent attached to the special detective unit in charge of operations for the special detective unit. In his evidence he stated that a Detective Sergeant Divine called to his house at sometime between 5 and 5.30am on the morning of 11th October. He reviewed and discussed with Detective Sergeant Divine the arrests that had been made, the circumstances in which the arrests were made, the identity of the party, the connections between the parties and their associations, the array of items found in their possession and he confirmed that at that stage he decided to mount a full investigation into this matter for the purpose of establishing whether or not the five applicants were a unit of the IRA on active service. At approximately 6am that morning having decided that the matter should be investigated he stated that he issued a number of warrants to search houses and specifically the warrant was issued to search the address of the first named applicant. He subsequently stated that at around 12.15am on 11th he went to Bray Garda Station. He held a meeting with members of the special detective unit there and confirmed that at that stage he was in charge of the investigation.
It is contended for on behalf of the first named applicant that the warrant was invalid because it was not issued by a superintendent independent of the investigation, in other words that the issue of the warrant by Chief Superintendent Maguire as he now is was a breach of the principle Nemo Iudex in Causa sua. Thus it is argued that the issue of the warrant by Superintendent Maguire offends against two principles namely, the guarantee of the inviolability of the dwelling under Article 40.5 of the Constitution. It is also contended that the issue of the warrant by the Superintendent offends against the guarantee of a fair trial enshrined in Article 38 of the Constitution in that in issuing the warrant he was acting as a judge in his own cause namely as head of the investigation. The argument is advanced on behalf of the first named applicant that the issue of the warrant amounts to a breach of fair procedures in that there was no independent impartial assessment of the need for the warrant. Lengthy submissions challenging the validity of the search warrants were made on behalf of the second named applicant (who does not appeal on this point) and those submissions were adopted on behalf of the applicant at his trial. The Special Criminal Court (the Court) gave its judgment on this issue on the 17th February, 2005. The Court was not persuaded that s.29 of the Offences against the State Act, 1939 precludes the Superintendent, who is in charge of an investigation from issuing such a warrant in the course of the investigation in which he is involved. The Court went on to conclude that on a literal interpretation of the section there was no such prohibition. The Court rejected the proposition that the case of D.P.P. v. Owens  1 I.R. 17 was authority for the proposition that a search warrant pursuant to the provisions of s.29 of the Offences Against the State Act must be issued by a Superintendent who is independent of the investigation in respect of which the search warrant is required. The Court did not accept that there must be a judgment independent of the officer who is investigating an offence, that there are reasonable grounds for believing that evidence in relation to the commission of that offence is to be found in any building.
D.P.P. v. Owens is a decision of the supreme Court on a case stated pursuant to s.34 of the Criminal Procedure Act, 1967, namely “the question of law hereby referred to the Supreme Court for determination is whether the learned Trial Judge properly exercised his judicial discretion in holding that a Peace Commissioner must give evidence to prove his state of mind at the time of issuing the warrant”.
The background to that case was that a trial took place on 10th November, 1997, before his Honour Judge Matthews. There were three counts on the indictment, namely assault causing actual bodily harm, having an article in a public area intending unlawfully to cause injury, incapacitate or intimidate and robbery. The offences were alleged to have been committed on 21st October, 1994. On 9th November, 1994, Garda Byrne acting on confidential information received by a colleague that some of the proceeds of the robbery might be found at a particular address, obtained from a Mr. Fowler, a Peace Commissioner, a warrant to search the premises. Gardaí called to the premises, the door was opened by the respondent, the search warrant was produced and a search was conducted but nothing was found of an incriminating nature. The respondent was arrested and subsequently at the trial it was indicated that the defence were challenging the search warrant and putting the prosecution on formal proof thereof. The basis of this was that if the search warrant was invalid the entry by police officers onto the premises was illegal amounting to an unconstitutional invasion of the respondent’s dwelling house and that therefore the subsequent arrest was invalid as was the detention of the respondent pursuant to s.4 of the Criminal Justice Act, 1984 and any statement made by him whilst in unlawful detention was inadmissible in evidence against him. At the commencement of the trial the Peace Commissioner was eighty eight years of age and too ill to come to court to explain the state of his mind at the time he issued the search warrant three years earlier. The trial judge accordingly held that the Peace Commissioner’s signature was not sufficient to establish the validity of the warrant and that the Peace Commissioner had to be present in person to prove his state of mind and if necessary to be available for cross-examination by the defence. The trial judge ruled that there was no evidence to establish the validity of the search warrant and consequently ruled that the subsequent arrest and detention were invalid and unconstitutional and directed the jury to find the respondent not guilty. It was in those circumstances that the Director of Public Prosecutions stated the case to the Supreme Court. In his judgment Barrington J. referred at p. 22 to the decision in the case of D.P.P. v. Byrne  I.R. 363 in which the accused had been arrested in pursuance of s.30 of the Offences Against the State Act, 1939 and his initial period of detention had been extended for a further four hours by a Garda Chief Superintendent. The Chief Superintendent was no longer alive at the date of the trial and no evidence could therefore be adduced as to the state of his mind when directing the extension period. The trial judge ruled the statement inadmissible and directed the jury to acquit the respondent. Barrington J. quoted from the judgment of McCarthy J. in that decision as follows:-
This Court is of the view that the Court correctly decided that D.P.P. v. Owens is not an authority for the proposition that a search warrant pursuant to the provisions of s.29 of the Offences Against the State Act must be issued by a Superintendent independent of the investigation in respect of which the search warrant is required. In the course of the submissions before the Special Criminal Court it had been argued that if s.29 of the 1939 Act did not require that such a warrant be issued by an independent authority, then the section is unconstitutional. In support of this contention the Court was referred to a Canadian decision, Hunter v. Southam Inc.  2 S.C.R. 145. The Court ruled correctly that it had no jurisdiction to adjudicate on the constitutionality of s. 29 and this Court is in no different position.
This Court is likewise satisfied that the wording of s.29(1) of the Offences against the State Act is clear and unambiguous. For the applicant’s contention to be correct, it would be necessary to read into the words of the statute a proviso that the Superintendent concerned should not be one involved in the particular investigation. This Court can see no basis for so doing. Accordingly this Court does not accept the submissions on behalf of the first named applicant in this regard.
The foregoing disposes of all the points seriously urged by the applicants. In light of the conclusions set out above the Court will refuse the applications for leave to appeal.