Sunday 23 October 2016

Micheál Martin: Adams's undermining of the State proves he should never run it

Micheál Martin

Published 22/12/2015 | 02:30

Thomas Murphy Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire
Thomas Murphy Photo: Julien Behal/PA Wire

The recent trial and conviction of Thomas 'Slab' Murphy has provided us all with an extraordinary insight into the mindset of Sinn Féin and its longtime leader.

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Gerry Adams's attack on the State's legal process and his defence of Mr Murphy, claiming that he was treated "unfairly" and that he was "a good republican" is absolutely astonishing and further reinforces the fact that Sinn Féin is simply unfit for Government.

This response is however completely in character with the way the Sinn Féin leadership has behaved in a string of cases in recent times. Quite simply, they are more interested in protecting their own than respecting and enforcing the rule of law.

Furthermore, the delayed response of Gerry Adams would appear to illustrate just how important Mr Murphy continues to be to the Sinn Fein project.

It is genuinely astonishing that the Sinn Féin leader would attempt to distract the public with claims of unfairness when it took the Criminal Assets Bureau to carry out this investigation in the first place. The public understand the context of why the CAB was established, and they know that the CAB does not normally examine routine non-payment of tax.

Gerry Adams says Mr Murphy is a good republican - I say that good republicans are tax compliant.

His party complains that Mr Murphy was tried in the Special Criminal Court and again tries to distract from the core issue with an attack on the existence of the court. Not for a moment do they acknowledge why the court was established, namely to protect the administration of justice against those who would use violence or the threat of violence to subvert it. The decision that the Special Criminal Court was necessary in this case was not made by Mr Adams' political opponents or the media. It was made by the Director of Public Prosecutions and upheld in the Supreme Court.

Rather than complain about the Special Criminal Court, Gerry Adams might more usefully reflect on the fact that even now, almost 18 years after the Good Friday Agreement, it remains the case that a non-jury trial is still required when certain figures associated with the provisional movement are facing legal proceedings.

The truth is that this is yet another example of the Sinn Féin leader not facing up to the paramilitary criminality that continues in parts of the North and border counties. Rather than confront that reality, he follows the well worn path of trying to silence his critics while changing the subject.

His comments, when scrutinised in tandem with the recent independent reports, North and South, into paramilitary activity, give an alarming and disturbing insight into how Mr Adams and his organisation do their business.

Both reports were succinct, severe and stark and the facts within them paint a disconcerting picture. When I first called for an updated report into paramilitary activity, I did so because two men had been murdered and because the most senior police officers in the North judged that members of an organisation we had all been told had left the stage, were responsible.

Those reports confirmed that this assessment was correct and that we continue to have a major problem with paramilitaries.

For this reason we called for the establishment a cross-border agency to lead a properly resourced crackdown on these organisations. The Good Friday Agreement enjoyed the overwhelming support of the Irish people - the continued existence of these groups is in direct contradiction of this mandate and directly undermines the entire peace process.

Of course, just as they did with Mr Murphy's guilty verdict, Sinn Féin also tried to distract people from the key findings of these reports and instead attacked those who commented on them.

The fact is that as long as paramilitary organisations continue to exist we will need institutions such as the Special Criminal Court. The defence and protection of the state will always be a fundamental principle of genuine republicans. In contrast, Gerry Adams' attempts to undermine institutions of the state, for the sole purpose of defending important colleagues and allies, prove clearly why he and his party should never be entrusted with any role in the running of it.

Micheál Martin is Fianna Fáil leader

Irish Independent

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