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Saturday 3 December 2016

Tanaiste Joan Burton: 'We’re living in Ireland, not Mexico. We have to ensure that we can deal with a small number of criminal gangs'

Published 06/02/2016 | 12:20

Joan Burton. Photo: Arthur Carron
Joan Burton. Photo: Arthur Carron

Tanaiste Joan Burton has hit out at Sinn Fein for calling for the abolition of the Special Criminal Court in light of yesterday’s gangland murder inside a Dublin hotel.

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Ms Burton said that both Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald called for the abolition of the court this week, and she called on them to withdraw these remarks.

The Tanaiste was speaking after yesterday’s murder of David Byrne (34), from Raleigh Square in Crumlin, who had been a key Dublin-based member of the Christy Kinahan cartel for years.

“We’re living in Ireland, not Mexico. We have to ensure that we can deal with a small number of criminal gangs, and that the courts are able to prosecute and deal with the people who are responsible.”

“Sinn Fein have to account for their call in recent days, again, to abolish the Special Criminal Court, and particularly in light of yesterday’s horrific and brutal murder in the Regency Hotel.”

“The Special Criminal Court was established during the Troubles to ensure that witnesses could give evidence free from intimidation and fear. It’s also being used in relation to gangland and gun crime and it’s allowed prosecutions to be achieved against major criminals.”

“Without the availability of the Special Criminal Court you can think back to the murders of people like Veronica Guerin. The courts would have been significantly hampered in bringing really serious criminals to justice.”

Ms Burton said that Sinn Fein only views the Special Criminal Court from the perspective of Republicans.

“Sinn Fein sees things differently. They view the criminal justice system only through the perspective of republicans – not as normal people view it. They’re opposed to the Special Criminal Court because it has been effective in dealing with senior republicans who’ve been involved in crime.”

“I think they should now withdraw the comments they made earlier this week about abolishing the Special Criminal Court and they should make clear that it will not be a clear objective of their manifesto, or of their proposals to be the Government of Ireland.”

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