Paul Williams: At last, 'Slab' Murphy begins his overdue stint behind bars
Published 27/02/2016 | 02:30
As the IRA's mafia-style boss of bosses for four decades, Thomas 'Slab' Murphy managed to avoid a stint locked behind bars.
But the Special Criminal Court finally debunked the myth of Murphy's apparent untouchability when he was transported off to Portlaoise maximum security prison yesterday.
Even though he will only serve 12 months or so of the 18-month sentence, it is still a milestone for law enforcement in this country.
It also represents a huge victory for the small group of determined detectives and revenue officers of the Criminal Assets Bureau, who doggedly pursued Murphy for more than 10 years.
Targeting Murphy's empire should also be a source of considerable personal pride for Detective Chief Superintendent Felix McKenna who, as head of CAB in 2005, made the decision to go after the Provo godfather once and for all.
Back in the ambivalent political atmosphere of the time it was a very brave step to take. Every time any state agency attempted to challenge any part of the republican cult there were threats that it would topple the peace process.
McKenna never relented in the face of threats - be they from politicians, terrorists or crime lords.
CAB and the authorities have delivered the only major hit on the IRA godfather who built one of the world's biggest crime empires whilst also directing mass murder as the head honcho on the IRA Army Council.
Murphy's admirers and comrades in Sinn Féin have also received a quick dose of reality.
Gerry Adams and the rest of the republican family have been allowed to hide for too long behind a protective wall built on the dodgy concept of "constructive ambiguity".
To be fair, Adams has never demurred from this line: he sees no hypocrisy or conflict in describing Murphy as "a good republican" or demanding the abolition of the court which convicted him.
But Murphy's conviction for tax evasion last December exposed the rotten, duplicitous and hypocritical heart of Sinn Féin which showers moral judgement and allegations of corruption down on every other aspect of the political sphere from their perch on the high moral ground, while selectively ignoring its own, much dirtier - and bloodier - hands.
The fact that the notoriously media-shy Murphy issued a statement after his sentencing hearing illustrates how upset he is after being given a rent-free, all-expenses paid 18-month vacation at the pleasure of the State which he spent decades trying to undermine and overthrow.
And just like the Sinn Féin party, whose strings he continues to pull from the shadows, Slab resorted to the default position.
Every time anyone challenges them or points out what Sinn Féin would prefer to hide, they twist the truth - melding it with lies - and use it to obfuscate and distract the spotlight.
Thomas Slab Murphy is the manifestation of all that is wrong in the new world of Irish politics. His republicanism is a malignant cancer that is gnawing away at the Irish body politic.
Many "republicans" do not consider Murphy a criminal even though his rackets have cost the Irish State countless tens of millions of euros which would have contributed considerably to funding the depleted public services that Sinn Féin claim they will restore.
This is hypocrisy on a mind-boggling scale.
Not to mention the environmental disaster created by Slab and his comrades as they indiscriminately dump toxic waste created in the fuel-laundering process in waste water. The practice has also cost the councils in Louth and Monaghan many hundreds of thousands of euro to clean up the mess.
That is why yesterday was a good day for law enforcement in Ireland.