Appeals that caused a storm
POLITICIANS' willingness to forward letters of appeal from distressed constituents has repeatedly landed them in trouble. In 2006 alone, 37 TDs and senators made represen-tations on behalf of prisoners.
Some of the most high-profile instances of politicians making representations to judges, gardai and ministers include:
- Kathleen Lynch (Labour)
The Cork North Central TD found herself in hot water in 2008 after it emerged she had written on behalf of the family of a man who was jailed for 13 years for raping two teenage girls. The letter was presented to the judge during sentencing. An extensive apology immediately followed from Ms Lynch.
- Tony Killeen (FF)
The Clare junior minister was at the centre of serious controversy in 2007 when it emerged representations were made from his constituency office seeking the early releases of child rapist Joseph Nugent and murderer Chris Cooney. He weathered a huge storm of criticism, apologised but refused to resign.
- Willie O'Dea (FF)
Former Defence Minister Willie O'Dea helped 29 inmates seeking special treatment between 2002 and 2005. Mr O'Dea insisted he was merely passing on representations. Victims' group ADVIC described the his behaviour as "appalling" and called for the practice of prisoner representations to be outlawed.
- Thomas McEllistrim (FF)
The Kerry North TD emerged as the most prolific lobbyist according to documents dating to 2006 and early 2007. He made six separate representations .
- Camillus Glynn (FF)
In 2008, the Fianna Fail senator passed on correspondence from Sinn Fein councillor Daithi Doolan to the justice minister in which Mr Doolan voiced "concern for the families" of men in jail "for the killing of Jerry McCabe" despite the release of all political prisoners under the Good Friday Agreement. The senator claimed the decision to pass on the request was designed to obtain clarification on the issue.