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McDonald says Sinn Fein councillor has 'no information' about unsolved Joseph Rafferty murder

  • Mary Lou McDonald says Daithi Doolan has 'no information of that sort' about Joseph Rafferty murder
  • McDonald to meet with family of Paul Quinn
  • FF calls for Conor Murphy to resign over remarks
  • Sinn Féin leader confronted with string of IRA terror atrocities that occurred since she was 16

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Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/ rollingnews.ie

Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/ rollingnews.ie

Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Eamonn Farrell/ rollingnews.ie

SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said one of her councillors has "no information of that sort" about the unsolved murder of Joseph Rafferty.

The family of Mr Rafferty, who was allegedly murdered by a Provisional IRA member, has pleaded with Ms McDonald in recent days to ask Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan to supply information to authorities that they claim he has about the case.

"Daithi Doolan has no information of that sort," Ms McDonald said today. "You know that."

Esther Uzell-Rafferty, the victim's sister, alleges that Mr Doolan has information that has not been provided to gardaí about her brother's murder 15 years ago. Mr Rafferty (29) was shot dead by a lone gunman outside his home in the Hayward apartment complex in Ongar Park, west Dublin, on April 12, 2005.

Mr Doolan has always insisted that he has fully co-operated with the Garda investigation and urged anyone with any information about the case to come forward. He has previously described Mr Rafferty's murder as a "cowardly and brutal act" and said those responsible must face justice.

The Sinn Féin leader was speaking as she made a final push for votes with senior party figures while canvassing on Dublin’s Moore Street, in the heart of her Dublin Central constituency, on Thursday afternoon.

She said the best outcome would be a government without Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, but when challenged on which party she could work with after the election, Ms McDonald said she could be Taoiseach.

"The person who can command the right number of votes in the Dáil will be Taoiseach and ultimately the decision on the numbers will rest in the hands of the electorate."

Asked if this could mean she could be Taoiseach, she responded: “Yes, it could, I am the leader of a political party, yes it could. It's all dependent on numbers.”

With Sinn Féin’s campaign dogged by controversy in recent days over its response to the 2007 murder of Paul Quinn, Ms McDonald said she would speak with Mr Quinn's mother, Breege Quinn, later on Thursday.

SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald will not be sacking the North’s Finance Minister Conor Murphy in the wake of his claim that murdered 21-year-old Paul Quinn was involved in criminality.

Asked if it had been a difficult matter to deal with, she said: "Look any time that you're asked to deal with something that involves trauma, that involves loss for any family, of course is difficult. I'm a human being, I'm also a mother, and of course, those are difficult questions to deal with.

"But that's the thing about leadership, you deal with the hard things and you do your best to manage and to deal with in a decent way, in a fair way, the most difficult of circumstances and it doesn't come any more difficult than a mother who has lost her child in such a brutal and a traumatic way."

She said her party’s decision to change its policy on the Special Criminal Court - and drop its demand for the abolition of the non-jury court - was a decision taken in 2017. It now wants a review of the court.

"We want a review that's complete and it starts with reviews of garda numbers, garda resources, garda practices and procedures, the judicial process, including the special courts and we accept that you need special measures to deal with 21st century criminals," she said.

"We also need to deal with sentencing policy and we need sentencing guidelines. We need to ensure that the DPP's office is properly resourced and then we also need to invest in communities."

She said the party would accept the recommendations of the review which it wants a High Court judge to carry out if in government.

Ahead of Saturday's vote, Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said voters needed to vote for "control" of their own destinies.

"People need to take this opportunity on Saturday to control their own destinies, to vote for their future, to vote for the change and Sinn Féin is that vehicle that will deliver change," he said.

This comes as Fianna Fáil has called on Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy to resign as Northern Ireland’s Finance Minister amid ongoing controversy over his remarks about Paul Quinn.

Jim O’Callaghan, Fianna Fáil’s justice spokesman, said he did not believe Mr Murphy’s apology was genuine and that he should resign.

However, he said Fianna Fáil in government would continue to deal with Mr Murphy if he remains in office at Stormont.

On Wednesday, Mr Murphy apologised and withdrew remarks made in 2007 that Mr Quinn had been involved in criminality following demands from the murder victim’s family.

The Quinn family also want him to provide police with the names of IRA members he claimed he spoke to and who assured him the terror group was not involved in the murder. His party leader Mary McDonald has denied that Mr Murphy is withholding information and said that he has spoken with authorities.

Mr O’Callaghan said: "I think Conor Murphy should resign, if his apology was genuine he would have issued that apology to the Quinn family 13 years ago. But the apology was really designed to protect and promote the interests of Sinn Féin in the run-up to a general election.

"What it reveals is that whenever there is a conflict between the interests of a family seeking justice on the one hand and the interests of the Provisional IRA or people involved in crime on the other hand Sinn Féin will always opt for the latter."

Mr O’Callaghan also attacked what he claimed was Sinn Féin’s opposition to the Special Criminal Court.

While Sinn Féin has previously called for the abolition of the non-jury court its current manifesto calls for a review of the court and in recent days Ms McDonald has indicated she does not want it abolished.

Mr O’Callaghan said he appreciated the concerns of human rights bodies such as the Irish Council for Civil Liberties but said the Constitution allows such courts to be established and “the people voted in favor of it”.

He said: "I'm waiting to hear a member of Fein identify for me or anyone else a miscarriage of justice that occurred in the special criminal court. I've never heard them being able to identify one of them.

"And notwithstanding that they still continue with their ambivalent view, their absolutely opposed view to Special Criminal Court because there's a vote every year in respect of this.

"Let’s be clear as to why the leader of Sinn Féin says that she does not support the Special Criminal Court. The reason she can’t say she supports it is because she is not allowed to say that because the cabal in West Belfast will not allow her to come out in favour of a special criminal court because if she does they know it undermines their revisionist view of what happened in this country for 30-40 years during The Troubles."

In the party’s final press conference at Fianna Fáil campaign headquarters in Dublin, Mr O’Callaghan and Fianna Fáil housing spokesman Darragh O’Brien took aim at Fine Gael.

Mr O’Brien said that the government party had run “the most negative election campaign in modern history”.

Mr O’Callaghan criticised Mr Varadkar’s campaign messaging about having the best team to govern the country. "To listen to Leo Varadkar talk about the Fine Gael A-Team, you’d swear he was Jurgen Klopp managing Liverpool and that Heather Humphreys and Eoghan Murphy and Simon Harris are like Mane, Salah and Firmino. Like, give me a break," he said.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has insisted she is "not trying to spirit the past away" as she was challenged over a litany of IRA atrocities from the Enniskillen bomb to the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe.

It comes as she remains under intense pressure over how her party treated the family of murdered Paul Quinn. Ms McDonald was confronted with a series of IRA outrages that occurred since she was 16-years-old by Newstalk's Pat Kenny.

He made the point that the polls show that Sinn Féin is gaining support among younger people who do not remember the horrific violence but that older voters do.

Mr Kenny said: "They remember – Enniskillen 1987 – you were 16 years old at the time. You weren’t a child. You remember that too. The Warrington bombing. You were 24. That’s when a three year-old child Jonathan Ball was killed and a 12-year-old boy Tim Parry was killed."

He said that Ms McDonald was 27 when the IRA killed Garda Jerry McCabe.

"A party member of yours, a TD [Martin Ferris] went to meet the killers of Jerry McCabe – a Garda killed on duty by the IRA".

Mr Kenny added: "You don’t like it but it is important to remind those who don’t have long memories what the violent history of your party’s association with the Provisional IRA is."

Ms McDonald said it's "absolutely essential that the conflict is remembered" and that it's "not glossed over or glamorised because real people suffered".

Mr Kenny said he could give many more examples and Ms McDonald replied: "This isn’t about trying to whitewash anything. What happened, happened and I feel a real sense of responsibility to put that to rights."

She said that she has met Tim Parry's father Colin and has visited Warrington.

Ms McDonald added: "I’m not trying to spirit the past away. Far from it. The truth is that we need to look at the past in the eye and we need to deal with it."

Mr Kenny said he sees a continuum between the Enniskillen bombing and the murder of Paul Quinn in 2007 who was brutally beaten to death by a gang who were associated with the Provisional IRA.

Ms McDonald said: "those that carried out that diabolical act need to be apprehended and put behind bar."

Online Editors