herald

Friday 2 December 2016

Nothing to say Adams, Mary Lou? Stony silence from Sinn Fein as 'good republican' Murphy is jailed

Garda outriders and two Defence Forces vehicles follow a van taking Thomas 'Slab'
Murphy from court (Collins)
Garda outriders and two Defence Forces vehicles follow a van taking Thomas 'Slab' Murphy from court (Collins)

Senior Sinn Fein figures are coming under increasing pressure to state whether they still believe IRA leader Thomas 'Slab' Murphy is a "good republican" after he was jailed for 18 months for tax fraud.

Last night, the party adopted a stony silence and failed to answer media queries.

Leader Gerry Adams posted on his blog about the election just before lunchtime, but made no reference to Murphy's sentencing.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin accused Mr Adams of failing to apply basic standards to the rule of law.

"It beggars belief that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams believes that Slab Murphy is a good republican," he said.

Standards

"He was sentenced today to 18 months for tax evasion. Good republicans pay their tax. Any normal political party would condemn breaking the law.

"It's unfortunate that Sinn Fein don't have normal standards."

Labour Party senator Mairia Cahill - who was raped by an IRA figure when she was a teenager - accused Sinn Fein of putting its friends before victims and the rule of law.

"Justice has finally caught up with this notorious individual," she said.

"For many years there have been substantial allegations that he is at the heart of republican activity, criminal and otherwise, in South Armagh. These allegations include matters far worse than tax evasion.

"Despite this, he has been repeatedly defended as 'a good republican' and a 'typical rural man' by Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald over recent weeks and months.

"This is a further indication of how they put themselves and their friends first before victims and the rule of law."

Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he was glad a custodial sentence was handed down.

"Obviously it is alleged that there were more serious offences committed, but the evidence has not been there for a prosecution," he told the Herald.

"Tax evaders get off pretty easy in this country - often without custodial sentences - so I think that this is appropriate."

Effective

Mr Varadkar said he would like to see the role of the Criminal Assets Bureau expanded.

"I don't know if I will be serving in the next government or not, but I think one of the most effective organisations against crime in recent years was set up by the last Fine Gael government, the Criminal Assets Bureau.

"I would love to see their role and resources extended so they can target so many people who maybe you can't get for drugs offences or murder offences but you can get them on financial offences.

"It's the Al Capone principle. He was got on tax evasion even though everyone knew there were much more very serious crimes committed by Al Cap- one than what he was convicted for."

The issue of Sinn Fein's support for Murphy overshadowed its election campaign.

The party was also criticised for its stance on the Special Criminal Court - the very court that yesterday sentenced Murphy to 18 months in prison.

In its manifesto, Sinn Fein calls for the repeal of anti- terror laws.

While Mr Adams and Ms McDonald both used the term "good republican" in relation to the Co Louth man, other leading members of the party refused to do so.

Fine Gael Louth TD Fergus O'Dowd said it was imperative that Mr Adams and Ms McDonald clarify whether they still believe Murphy is a "good republican".

"There is an obligation on them to do that as elected representatives," he said.

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