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Revealed: FF TD’s work on legal case for Gerry Adams

Justice spokesman O'Callaghan has been providing legal services to former SF leader

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Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Campaign: SDLP leader Colum Eastwood (left) and Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan canvassing in Ranelagh, Dublin. Photo: Aine McMahon/PA Wire

Campaign: SDLP leader Colum Eastwood (left) and Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan canvassing in Ranelagh, Dublin. Photo: Aine McMahon/PA Wire

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Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O'Callaghan, who claims Sinn Féin is unfit to be a coalition partner, has been providing legal services to the party's former president Gerry Adams.

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Mr O'Callaghan yesterday led his party's attacks on Sinn Féin over its handling of the Paul Quinn murder.

But the Irish Independent has learned the TD, who also works as a barrister, was hired by former Sinn Féin president Mr Adams to act in a defamation action against a national newspaper.

According to court filings, Mr O'Callaghan helped draft a statement of claim for Mr Adams.

Aside from Micheál Martin, the double-jobbing TD has been Fianna Fáil's staunchest critic of Sinn Féin during the election campaign. He is considered the frontrunner to be the next justice minister should Fianna Fáil be the biggest party following the General Election.

Asked how he could square his representation of Mr Adams with his stance on Sinn Féin, Mr O'Callaghan defended his actions. He referenced the code of conduct of the Irish Bar which prohibits discriminating in favour of or against any person availing of their services.

He told the Irish Independent it would be "a sad day" for justice and democracy if lawyers refused people legal representation because of their politics.

Mr O'Callaghan was again at the forefront of attacks on Sinn Féin yesterday, calling on Conor Murphy to resign as Stormont finance minister over remarks he made about the Quinn murder.

Separately, Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald spoke with Paul's mother Breege Quinn by phone last night.

Ms Quinn appealed to Ms McDonald as a "mother" to "pick up the phone to Conor Murphy and get him to say the few important words - Paul Quinn was not a criminal".

She also said Mr Adams should apologise for remarks that suggested her son was involved in criminality.

As the controversy over Sinn Féin's response to the Quinn murder continued yesterday, Mr O'Callaghan appeared at a press conference where he attacked the party.

Speaking about Mr Murphy's apology to the family of Paul Quinn, Mr O'Callaghan said that if it was a genuine apology it would have been made 13 years ago.

He claimed the apology was designed to protect and promote the interests of Sinn Féin in the run-up to the election.

He hit out again at Sinn Féin's opposition to the non-judge Special Criminal Court and claimed a "cabal in West Belfast" would not allow party leader Mary Lou McDonald to come out in favour of it.

Mr O'Callaghan has juggled his legal and political careers since being elected to the Dáil in 2016.

He initially began representing Mr Adams in 2015, when Mr O'Callaghan was a member of Dublin City Council. According to legal filings, Mr O'Callaghan helped draft a statement of claim for the then Sinn Féin president that December.

The matter, which has yet to go to trial, was also the subject of a number of motion hearings in 2016 and 2018.

Mr Adams is suing Sunday Newspapers Limited, publishers of the 'Sunday World' newspaper, over an article which appeared in September 2015 about him and former IRA member Kevin McGuigan, who was murdered the previous month. The publisher has denied defamation, and is fighting the claim.

Mr Adams is also represented in the action by prominent defamation solicitors Johnsons.

Mr O'Callaghan declined to say if he intended to continue representing Mr Adams.

"As a barrister, I am not permitted to make any public comment on any case in which I was previously briefed. Asking a barrister to comment upon a case is like asking a doctor to comment upon a patient," he said.

"However, throughout my career as a barrister I have represented a couple of thousand people including elected politicians from every party. I represented all clients fearlessly and to the best of my ability.

"In doing so I complied with the code of conduct of the Irish Bar which prohibits barristers from discriminating in favour of or against any person availing of my services on the grounds of their personal characteristics or politics.

"My political beliefs are neither affected nor influenced by the persons I represent. The justice system in this country has benefited from having an independent Bar that does not allow barristers to avoid representing certain people.

"I have always upheld the interests of people seeking my services without regard to my own interests or to any consequences for myself. It will be a sad day for Irish justice and democracy if lawyers refuse to offer people legal representation because of their politics."

Last month, Mr O'Callaghan said his party had concerns that if Sinn Féin was in government it may also align itself to "other organisations".

He referred to revelations that former Northern Ireland finance minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir consulted with senior republicans about the RHI "cash for ash" scandal. Mr Ó Muilleoir sent documents relating to RHI to Pádraic Wilson, a former IRA commander in the Maze Prison. He said there could not be a situation where people in government "go into another room and discuss affairs of State with people who haven't been elected".

Irish Independent


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