Tuesday 26 September 2017

Senator was not first to use office in bid to help a convict

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

THERE is no law which prevents TDs or senators from using officially headed notepaper to make representations on behalf of someone convicted of an offence.

And Senator David Norris is not the first politician to court controversy by pleading for leniency in the case of a convicted offender.

Former Progressive Democrats Junior Minister Bobby Molloy was forced to resign in 2002 after interfering in the case of rapist Patrick Naughton.

Someone representing Mr Molloy, then a Galway West TD, tried to phone a judge in his chambers in order to clarify whether he had received a number of letters from Naughton's sister Anne. The judge told a court the intervention had been "quite improper" and Mr Molloy resigned the following day.

Lethal

Fine Gael presidential candidate Gay Mitchell has also been involved in making political representations -- albeit to prevent a man from being executed on Death Row in the USA.

In 2003, he called on then Florida governor Jeb Bush to spare the life of Paul Hill, who in 1994 murdered a doctor and his bodyguard because the medic performed abortions. Hill was executed by lethal injection in 2003. Representations were made from the constituency office of former Fianna Fail minister Tony Killeen, seeking the early releases of child rapist Joseph Nugent and murderer Chris Cooney.

He was later promoted to Defence Minister and retired at the last General Election.

Labour TD Kathleen Lynch -- now the Junior Minister for Mental Health -- had to apologise to the victims of double rapist Trevor Casey in 2008.

She wrote a letter testifying to the good character of Mr Casey's parents which was handed to the trial judge. She later accepted it was inappropriate for a TD to get involved in a case of such seriousness.

Irish Independent

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