Saturday 18 November 2017

Fitzgerald slams SF policy on anti-terrorism laws

Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Collins
Fine Gael's Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Collins
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald says Sinn Féin want to abolish anti-terrorism laws and non-jury courts because of their success in protecting citizens from the "deadly activities of the Provisional IRA".

Ms Fitzgerald's intervention comes as Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams's friend Thomas 'Slab' Murphy today appears before the Special Criminal Court to be sentenced for tax fraud.

Murphy, a former IRA chief, will be sentenced by the non- jury court after he was convicted of cheating the taxpayer out of hundreds of thousands of euros.

Mr Adams has said he will get rid of the Special Criminal Court and anti-terrorism laws if elected into government.

Speaking to Irish Independent, Ms Fitzgerald said Sinn Féin's plan to abolish the Offenses Against the State Act, which legislates for non-jury courts, would make communities less safe from terrorists and criminals.

"It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the success of the court and these laws down through the years in protecting us from the deadly activities of the Provisional IRA is a large part of the motivation for getting rid of it," said Ms Fitzgerald.

She said the legislation is a "very important power particularly at a time of increased of terrorist activities".

"The truth is if they had their way with these policies our communities would be far less safe and that would be a very high price to pay for the ambivalence they are showing to the Special Criminal Court and the legislation that I would says has served us well," she added.

Mr Adams yesterday dodged questions on his relationship with Murphy who was convicted of defrauding the State of €189,000 in unpaid taxes.

Speaking at Sinn Féin's final press conference of the campaign, Mr Adams, said: "What happens tomorrow in the courts is a matter for the courts," when questioned about Murphy's sentencing hearing.

Asked by Irish Independent if he hoped Mr Murphy would vote for him before his court appearance, Mr Adams said he wanted everyone to vote for Sinn Féin.

"I want to call on everybody who has a future in this Ireland we want to build. It's all about the future. I want you to consider, along with everybody else, seizing the moment and voting for Sinn Féin," he said.

Mr Adams's support of Murphy, who he described as a 'good republican' has been a major election campaign issue for Sinn Féin.

The Sinn Féin leader and his party members have been forced to defend their association with the former IRA chief, who the courts decided needed to be tried before the Special Criminal Court over fears of jury intimidation.

The party pledged to abolish the court and the Offenses Against the State Act in its election manifesto but has not outlined what will replace the anti-terrorism laws.

Fine Gael will open a second Special Criminal Court on April 4.

Irish Independent

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