Monday 24 October 2016

SF candidate Andrews 'led murder victim's family up the garden path' - minister

Chris Andrews (Tom Burke)
Chris Andrews (Tom Burke)
Esther Uzell, whose brother Joseph Rafferty was shot dead (INM)
Joseph Rafferty
Kevin Humphreys (Damien Eagers)

The family of murder victim Joseph Rafferty were "led up the garden" path by election candidate Chris Andrews, a Labour minister has claimed.

Kevin Humphreys, who is running against Mr Andrews in Dublin Bay South, has denied his decision to raise the case on national radio was a political manoeuvre.

He told the Herald that Mr Andrews was "to the forefront of the campaign to help the Raffertys but since joining Sinn Fein he has been noticeably silent".

Mr Rafferty was murdered in Ongar, West Dublin in 2005 by a member of the Provisional IRA.

Mr Andrews, who was a Fianna Fail TD from 2007 to 2011, was heavily involved in the family's campaign for justice and met with gardai on several occasions to help advance their case. He also raised the issue in the Dail.

However, Mr Rafferty's sister Ester Uzell has now alleged that Mr Andrews is a "hypocrite" for joining Sinn Fein despite knowing that a party associate was involved in the murder.

Mr Andrews, who is currently a city councillor for Pembroke-South Dock, has conceded the suspect may be associated with "people within Sinn Fein" but denied the man was a member of the party.

He has said that Ms Uzell's public comments just days out from the General Election are "politically motivated".

A Millward Brown opinion poll for the Herald yesterday showed that Mr Andrews is on 17pc and in a strong position to take a Dail seat.

The case was raised by Mr Humphreys, who is Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, on RTE Radio during the week.

"You haven't been consistent in your life since you came into politics," he said, adding: "Didn't you attend confidential meetings in Harcourt Square in relation to the murder of Joseph Rafferty, and aren't you fully aware that you supported the family up to, and until, you changed your colours and went into Sinn Fein?"

Mr Andrews told the Herald that he felt the statement was politically driven rather than by concern for the family.

However, Mr Humphreys has now gone further, saying: "I raised it [on radio] that when he was a member of Fianna Fail he was to the forefront of the campaign to help the Raffertys but since joining Sinn Fein he has been noticeably silent.

"He raised it in the Dail while in Fianna Fail. But he's amazingly silent now. He has been totally inconsistent on this and has led the family up the garden path."

Mr Andrews said he helped the family long after others had "got enough political mileage" out of their case.

"If there's anything that I could do now, just as I did then, I'd certainly do that," he said.

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