The Offences Against the State Act 1939 provides for the establishment of Special Criminal Courts. A Special Criminal Court now known as Special Criminal Court No. 1 was established by an order made by the Government on the 30th May 1972 and is operating since 1972. Special Criminal Court No. 2 was established by an order made by the Government on the 14th day of December, 2004 and is operating since 2016. Special Criminal Courts No.1 and No. 2 sit in Dublin.
A Special Criminal Court sits with three Judges and no jury. The Government appoints a panel of High Court, Circuit Court and District Court Judges to sit in the Special Criminal Courts. There are currently nineteen judges on the panel.
Cases involving terrorism and organised crime offences are automatically brought before a Special Criminal Court for trial. Other offences are brought before or sent for trial when the Director of Public Prosecutions certifies that the ordinary Courts are, in her opinion, inadequate to secure the effective administration of justice and the preservation of public peace and order.
An appeal against a conviction or sentence by the Special Criminal Courts can be brought the Court of Appeal.