Saturday 25 February 2017

Alan Shatter intervenes in row over Slab Murphy conviction

Niall O'Connor, Political Correspondent

Alan Shatter
Alan Shatter

FORMER Justice Minister Alan Shatter has warned that a Sinn Féin government would give “impunity to terrorists” and put the security of the State at risk.

Mr Shatter has today intervened in the row over the Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy case after Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams claimed that the former IRA chief has been “treated unfairly” by the justice system and had his rights “denied”.

He said that Murphy, who is facing up to five years in jail for tax fraud, has the right to be should be tried in front of a jury like all citizens.

The extraordinary claims by the Sinn Fein leader last night was followed by a further statement today which again questions the credibility of the Special Criminal Court.

“It is truly extraordinary that a case regarding a failure to complete tax returns would be heard at the Special Criminal Court. This is in breach of Tom Murphy’s rights under the Constitution and the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR),” Mr Adams said.

“As I have already remarked there was nothing ordinary or routine about the trial and conviction of Tom Murphy who was denied the right to be tried before a jury of his peers and this raises serious concerns.

"Tom Murphy contests the verdict of the Special Criminal Court and maintains his innocence.

“We have seen many prominent figures, including TDs, accused of tax irregularities. Unlike Tom Murphy, they will not be denied their constitutional and civil rights.”

But in a statement this afternoon, former Justice Minister Alan Shatter has said the Special Court is vital for the protection of the state and the rule of law. 

“Sinn Fein has always hated the Special Criminal Court. It was established in the 1970s to ensure those engaged in terrorism could be prosecuted without the law being subverted by jury intimidation,” said the Fine Gael TD.

“Many of those guilty of murder ,barbaric assaults ,bank robberies and arms offences have been convicted and jailed by the court. To protect the security of the State and the rule of law the Special Criminal Court is still required. “

Mr Shatter called on Mr Adams to confirm whether a Sinn Fein government would abolish the court. He claimed that such a government would give "impunity to terrorists".

"No one should be fooled by Sinn Fein's false theatrical concern expressed for the rule of law during the lifetime of the current Dail. It was nothing more than cynical attention seeking and headline grabbing.

Gerry Adams should end all ambiguity and publicly confirm that a Sinn Fein led government would abolish the Special Criminal Court, placing all citizens called to jury service and their family members at risk when required to deliver a verdict in terrorist or gangland related prosecutions. Another good reason for ensuring that Sinn Fein is not elected to government in 2016.”

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