Victim's sister slams 'betrayal' by election candidate Chris Andrews
Sinn Féin election candidate Chris Andrews has been branded a "liar" and a "hypocrite" by the family of an innocent Dublin man who was murdered by a Provisional IRA member.
The family of Joseph Rafferty say they also feel sickened and betrayed by “turncoat” Andrews who was involved in their campaign to force Sinn Fein to give up his killer while he was a Fianna Fail TD.
The Raffertys have accused him of “telling blatant lies” on the doorsteps by informing their neighbours and friends that he is still working with them in a bid to bring Joseph’s killers to justice.
Joseph Rafferty had been subjected to several death threats from a well-known Provo and Sinn Fein election worker before being shot dead by a lone gunman in April 2005 in Ongar, west Dublin.
Mr Andrews accompanied Joseph’s sister, Esther Uzell, to a number of confidential briefings about the murder investigation with senior gardai at which the prime suspect’s association with Sinn Fein were discussed.
Mr Andrews also discussed Joseph’s murder during a Dail debate on the Criminal Justice Bill in March 2009.
“The Garda Siochana has put in a substantial number of man hours in trying to identify the people who killed Joseph Rafferty,” he said.
“These people can do what they want without feeling they could be apprehended. Having met the Garda Siochana about this and other matters, I have no doubt their time will come and they will be caught.”
Four years later, the former TD joined Sinn Fein.
“We could not believe it when we heard the news that Chris Andrews had joined Sinn Fein,” said Ms Uzell, whose campaign for justice has seen her being invited to meet the US President in the White House for St Patrick’s Day on three occasions.
“He supported our campaign and was in possession of highly-sensitive information about the man who gardai believe murdered Joseph, and he also witnessed members of Sinn Fein intimidating members of our family.
“But he still had no problem joining that same party, which shows what a hypocrite he really is – Andrews betrayed us in the most vile way poss-ible.”
As part of her campaign, Ms Uzell – who was supported by the sisters of Belfast man Robert McCartney, another Sinn Fein/IRA murder victim – also ran for the Dail in 2007 against Sinn Fein to highlight that the party was covering for the suspect.
During the campaign, republican thugs smashed her car and Sinn Fein activists openly intimidated another sister during an incident that was witnessed by Mr Andrews.
“He knows the murderer is a member of Sinn Fein and worked for them in the elections and he witnessed what happened to us, yet he can go and join them [Sinn Fein]?” said Ms Uzell.
“When I heard that he had gone to Sinn Fein I was sick in my stomach. I just could not believe the depth of hypocrisy of this man.
“How can you do that? I keep asking myself that over and over again. I felt that we as a family had been betrayed in the worst way possible.
“He knows everything about who murdered my brother and he saw the intimidation. He also knew that our family had gone to Sinn Fein to plead for Joseph’s life when he got the threats.”
Mr Andrews told the Herald that while he did attend high-level meetings, it “was never discussed whether he [the suspect] was a member of Sinn Fein or not”.
“It’s hard to recall everything, every single detail of every single meeting, but generally there wasn’t a political element to the conversations at the meeting. It was more to do with the gardai looking to find evidence of who killed Joseph Rafferty,” he said.
Mr Andrews said he knows Ms Uzell was intimidated but does not know the identity of those behind it.
He claimed Ms Uzell’s criticisms were politically motivated by “people who are afraid of Sinn Fein doing well in this election”.
Ms Uzell said her family were particularly distressed by a claim made by Mr Andrews on RTE Radio’s Sean O’Rourke Show last week when he suggested he was still involved in their campaign for justice.
During the show, the Sinn Fein candidate for Dublin Bay South was challenged about Joseph Rafferty’s murder by Labour TD Kevin Humphreys.
“You have never been consistent in your life since you came into politics,” he said.
“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 replied: “I worked very closely with the Uzell family and the gardai. I do so still.”
Ms Uzell said: “I could not believe he said that, which is blatant lies. I want the good people here in this constituency to know that the man is a liar and a hypocrite and that he betrayed us.”
Mr Andrews resigned from Fianna Fail in August 2012 after being unmasked as the mystery person behind a Twitter account that posted negative comments about members within the party.
Between March and June of that year he posted more than 300 tweets containing highly-critical and abusive material about his party colleagues and Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.
The account was the subject of a sophisticated investigation by the husband of a Fianna Fail member and led to Mr Andrews’ unmasking.
A year later he joined Sinn Fein and was elected as a member of Dublin City Council for the party in 2014.
Mr Andrews served for one term as a Fianna Fail deputy from 2007 until 2011 when he lost his seat.