THE BROTHER of Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin, has defended a decision to offer a vote of sympathy to the family of a former Lord Mayor convicted of sexually assaulting a child.
Cork City Council offered an expression of sympathy to the family of John Murray (85), a former Lord Mayor of Cork, who died on Saturday and whose Requiem Mass and funeral takes place Wednesday.
Councillor Sean Martin proposed a vote of sympathy to the entire Murray family. It was passed despite one councillor, Councillor Chris O'Leary, expressing his concern.
When Murray was convicted in 2013 of sexually assaulting a teen following a high profile Cork Circuit Criminal Court trial, a portrait of him was removed from City Hall.
Murray had served as Lord Mayor of Cork in 1993 and had led a Cork delegation to the US in 1994.
The former Labour councillor, who ran a taxi business, contested the charges and never expressed remorse to his victim as he was jailed for 12 months.
But Mr Martin said the expression of sympathy was for the Murray family who had themselves suffered so much.
He flatly rejected suggestions that the sympathy in any way minimised or condoned what Murray himself had done.
“What he did was wrong. But there is hurt on all sides here,” he said.
“His family have suffered through this as well."
"It’s a tragedy all round and I think it’s very sad that that hurt will be carried by members of his family into another generation,” Councillor Martin added.
However, the City Council stance had been criticised by Rape Crisis Network Ireland. They warned that the lack of protocol to stop such an expression of sympathy because there was no system to halt it if some councillors were concerned at its impact was absolutely no defence.
"It is simply not appropriate,"an RCNE official said.
"The question is, what kind of message does this send out?"
Murray died in Marymount Hospice in Cork on Saturday after a long illness.
He had served nine months of his sentence before being released early.
His victim had requested, through Councillor O'Leary, that no official representative of Cork City Council attend the funeral as is traditional for former Lord Mayors.
A jury convicted Murray in 2013 on five of the six charges he faced after deliberating for over six hours.
He was found not guilty on a sixth charge. The former Lord Mayor remained emotionless as he was led away to begin his sentence.
Judge Sean O'Donnabhain remarked that the former politician had not shown much remorse towards the victim.
The girl said she was left shocked and frightened by the assaults which happened in Murray's car, in a pub toilet and at another premises in Cork.
Murray of Gregg Road, Cork vehemently denied all the charges over various dates between 1996 and 1998.
The first incident occurred three years after he was Lord Mayor but while he was still serving on Cork City Council.
Murray broke down in evidence as he said the claims left him "disgusted" and "sick to the stomach."