JUDGE Paul Carney blamed garda security for the failure to empanel a jury in Limerick in the trial of five men for the murder of Kieran Keane, a controversial speech he was forced to withdraw from a symposium yesterday in Dublin reveals.

Carney withdrew from the symposium after Chief Justice Ronan Keane objected to the fact that his speech discussed specific cases, and mediation by High Court president Joe Finnegan failed.

Carney's script, seen by the Sunday Tribune, notes the county registrar expressed concern to gardaí that security in the case into the murder of Keane, and the attempted murder of Owen Treacy, should be low-key to avoid causing anxiety to the jury panel. But the operation included cordoning off the court house, a garda boat and water unit, a helicopter, sniffer dogs, snipers and the searching of the panel with metal detectors.

The result was "a significant increase" in medical certificates. "It is ironic that a practice such as the placing of snipers on the roof of the Old Bailey and other court buildings in England, which has been criticised from time to time in relation to the trial of Irishmen as being over the top, should have the effect in this jurisdiction of intimidating jurors from turning up, " Carney observed.