Sinn Féin will always be linked with bodies in bogs - Leo Varadkar
Published 25/02/2016 | 02:30
Health Minister Leo Varadkar has described former IRA leader Thomas 'Slab' Murphy as a "thug" and a "gangster" and said Sinn Féin will always be associated with murders and bodies buried in bogs.
Mr Varadkar made the charges during a heated head-to-head debate with Sinn Féin's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald on Newstalk.
Under questioning from broadcaster Pat Kenny, Ms McDonald claimed each political party "has their past and has their legacy".
Mr Varadkar replied: "Oh come off it, where's my party's past or legacy of people who were murdered, bodies buried in bogs, or people still living today who were maimed, who are still carrying the scars and burns?"
The angry exchanges between the pair continued as Ms McDonald, a TD for Dublin Central, defended her party leader Gerry Adams.
"A fair and objective assessment of Gerry Adams would recognise absolutely the fact of his involvement in the peace process, the very considerable risks he took, including injury to himself, his own safety and that of his family," she said.
Mr Varadkar accused Sinn Féin of trying to take full credit for the peace process - despite the fact the party is associated with murders.
He also referred to Thomas 'Slab' Murphy as a "gangster" - prompting an angry response from Ms McDonald.
"Don't be so cheap to be comparing me or my colleagues to gangsters," she said.
Mr Varadkar continued and described Murphy as a "thug". "Do you not agree that Slab Murphy is a thug and a gangster?," he asked.
Ms McDonald responded: "Slab Murphy needs to fix his tax affairs and settle his affairs with Revenue."
Murphy faces up to five years in prison when he is sentenced at the Special Criminal Court for tax offences tomorrow.
He had denied nine charges of failing to comply with tax laws, but was convicted on all counts after a 32-day trial.
The prosecution alleged he did not furnish a return of income, profits or gains or their sources over eight years.
During a major search operation in the border area in March 2006, the Criminal Assets Bureau and its Northern counterparts uncovered evidence of a hidden economy worth hundreds of millions of euro.