Thursday 23 October 2014

Martin takes Sinn Fein to task for 'lobby call to British PM' after Collins letter row

Published 23/06/2014 | 02:30

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin
Niall Collins
Niall Collins
Martin McGuinness
Martin McGuinness

FIANNA Fail leader Micheal Martin has dragged Sinn Fein into the political row stemming from the Niall Collins affair.

Mr Martin accused senior Sinn Fein figures, including Martin McGuinness, of "lobbying" the British government over the arrest of party president Gerry Adams in April in connection with the Jean McConville murder.

The Cork TD said that Sinn Fein figures phoned up members of the British government demanding Mr Adams's release and said Mr McGuinness himself threatened to withdraw his party's support for policing in Northern Ireland.

Mr Martin made the remarks in response to the ongoing criticism of Mr Collins after he pleaded leniency on behalf of a drug dealer.

The Fianna Fail justice spokesperson has seen his credibility tarnished as a result of his decision to ask a judge not to jail drug dealer Hugo Porter on compassionate grounds.

While admitting that writing the letter was a "mistake", Mr Collins has said he did so for the sake of Mr Porter's four young children.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Martin said the attempts by Sinn Fein figures in to ensure the release of Mr Adams was "light years away" from the actions of Mr Collins.

"I would say that, not so long ago, and I'm not casting aspersions on anyone. But you had senior Sinn Fein figures phoning up the British Prime Minister over the arrest of Gerry Adams in connection with the Jean McConville murder," he said. "Martin McGuinness, for instance, threatened to withdraw the party's support for policing. Nobody cried boo about that. Niall Collins's situation is light years away," he added.

Meanwhile, Mr Martin will tomorrow address his parliamentary party over the issue of intervening in legal and judicial processes. The pressure on the Fianna Fail intensified after the Irish Independent revealed on Saturday that the party's agriculture spokesperson and former minister Eamon O Cuiv made representation on behalf of a number of criminals.

One of these was Edward Griffin, who was seeking to be moved from a high security jail to an open prison.

Manslaughter

The Galway man was jailed for eight years in 2009 for the manslaughter of criminal associate Patrick McCormack.

Griffin applied to be moved from the Midlands Prison to Shelton Abbey open prison in 2012. Mr O Cuiv subsequently wrote to the Irish Prison Service in July of that year asking to be informed when a decision was made on the application. He was told that August the request had been refused. He defended his actions after they were revealed following a Freedom of Information request.

Mr Martin told the Irish Independent that he will be providing his TDs and senators with guidelines surrounding the area of intervening in the judicial process.

Irish Independent

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