Sunday 18 February 2018

Justice Minister Fitzgerald pledges to hunt down 'sinister' hotel murder gang

Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Collins
Frances Fitzgerald. Photo: Collins

Philip Ryan and Kevin Doyle

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald last night described the gangland murder in the Regency Hotel as "sinister and shocking" and pledged to hunt down the gang behind the broad daylight killing.

Ms Fitzgerald said she spoke directly to Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan about the broad daylight killing and has been assured that Gardai will take "every possible action" to bring the gang to justice.

"People are rightly shocked at the callous and brutal fashion of what they've seen and obviously we won't spare any resources in pursuing relentlessly this gang," she told the Sunday Independent. "Any one murder is one too many and it will not be tolerated in a civilised society," she added.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny branded the murder as "appalling" and insisted that his party will not tolerate gangland violence.

"This is an appalling incident and there was deep trauma and deep shock for very many ordinary decent people, particularly young people who were in the Regency Hotel yesterday."

He said the Garda Commissioner will make extra patrols and emergency response units wil be made available as part of the investigation into the murder.

Mr Kenny also rejected Sinn Fein's election pledge to abolish on the non-jury Special Criminal Court, which recently convicted tax cheat Thomas 'Slab' Murphy.

"We reject that, because you have ample evidence of intimidation of witnesses being brought before the courts. Fine Gael in government will set up a second Special Criminal Court, making it perfectly clear we will not tolerate this kind of activity," he said.

Tanaiste Joan Burton lashed out at Sinn Fein's plan to abolish the Special Criminal Court, saying they see the justice system through the eyes of republicans, not as citizens.

The Labour Party leader said she was "absolutely horrified" by the pictures of the Regency Hotel murder and called on Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald to withdraw their manifesto promise of ending non-jury trials.

"We're living in Ireland, not Mexico. We have to ensure that we can deal with a small number of criminal gangs, and that the courts are able to prosecute and deal with the people who are responsible," Ms Burton said.

"Sinn Fein have to account for their call in recent days - again - to abolish the Special Criminal Court, particularly in light of the horrific and brutal murder in the Regency Hotel."

If elected to government, Sinn Fein plans to abolish the special court which was set up for cases where jury members might be considered at serious risk of intimidation.

Mr Adams' party have repeatedly condemned the non-jury system in recent weeks after his good friend and former IRA chief Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was convicted of tax evasion.

Murphy, who was described in a BBC documentary as a mass murderer, is to be sentenced on Friday.

"The Special Criminal Court was established during the Troubles to ensure that witnesses could give evidence free from intimidation and fear," Ms Burton said.

Sunday Independent

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