Sinn Féin under pressure over 'good republican' stance
Published 27/02/2016 | 02:30
Senior Sinn Féin figures are coming under major pressure to clarify whether they still believe IRA leader Thomas 'Slab" Murphy is a "good republican' after he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for tax fraud.
The party adopted a stony silence last night and failed to answer media queries.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams posted on his blog about the election just before lunch time yesterday - but he made no reference to the sentencing of his friend.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin accused Mr Adams of failing to apply basic standards to the rule of law.
"It beggars belief that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams believes that Slab Murphy is a good republican," Mr Martin said. "He was sentenced today to 18 months for tax evasion, good republicans pay their tax.
"Any normal political party would condemn breaking the law. It's unfortunate that Sinn Féin don't have normal standards."
Labour Party senator Mairia Cahill, who was raped by an IRA figure when she was a teenager, accused Sinn Féin of putting their friends before victims and the rule of law.
"Justice has finally caught up with this notorious individual," Ms Cahill said.
"For many years, there have been substantial allegations that he is at the heart of republican activity - criminal and otherwise - in South Armagh. These allegations include matters far worse than tax evasion.
"Despite this, he has been repeatedly defended as "a good republican" and a "typical rural man" by Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald over recent weeks and months. This is a further indication of how they put themselves and their friends first before victims and the rule of law."
Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he was glad a custodial sentence was handed down.
"Obviously, it is alleged that there were more serious offences committed, but the evidence has not been there for a prosecution," Mr Varadkar told the Irish Independent.
"Tax evaders get off pretty easy in this country, often without custodial sentences so I think that this is appropriate."
Fine Gael TD for Louth Fergus O'Dowd said it was imperative that Mr Adams and Ms McDonald clarified whether they still believed Murphy was a "good republican".
"There is an obligation on them to do that as elected representatives," he told the Irish Independent.