SF councillor says he 'can not condemn vigilantes'
A Sinn Féin representative has refused to condemn the vigilante attack on security guards in Roscommon, saying he would be "disappointed if it didn't happen".
There are growing tensions in the Strokestown area ahead of a planned protest over the eviction of a farmer due to his history of bank debts.
Gardaí believe dissident republicans are behind a shocking attack on security personnel over the weekend that resulted in three men being hospitalised, a dog being put down, and a number of vehicles being set alight.
However, local Sinn Féin councillor Michael Mulligan insisted while he was against violence in general, he "can't condemn" this incident.
"I have to say I'd be disappointed if it didn't happen. It's not where we want to be but I can't go out and condemn these people.
"How in the name of God could I go out and condemn these people? I'd be two-faced if I did," he said on Shannonside radio.
On Tuesday, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar sparked a massive Dáil row by claiming: "When it comes to Sinn Féin and the rule of law and public order and condemning violence, it does not take very long for your balaclava to slip."
The party's deputy leader Pearse Doherty, to whom the Taoiseach's comments were directed, admitted yesterday that "without a doubt" he should have been more forthright with his initial criticism of the attack - but added: "I'll be able to go home to look my kids in the eye and I know I'm on the right side of this issue."
The Donegal TD said Mr Varadkar had yet to adequately "call out" the use of private security firms by banks.
The Sinn Féin hierarchy has also ramped up criticism of gardaí for their involvement in the eviction of farmer Anthony McGann and his two siblings.
Video footage of people being removed from the property during the eviction on Tuesday of last week shows officers keeping a watching brief as people struggle with agents hired by the KBC bank.
The Irish Independent revealed yesterday there were no fewer than seven communications between the local sheriff or the sheriff's messenger and Mr McGann over several months in the lead-up to the repossession. It has also emerged Mr McGann (50) is convicted of two counts of failing to file tax returns.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said gardaí attend such evictions to ensure there is no breach of the peace.
But Sinn Féin's justice spokesman Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire claimed the commissioner's comments "fly in the face of the evidence".
A large policing operation is expected to be put in place in Strokestown this weekend for a protest which is being promoted by the hardline movement Republican Sinn Féin.
The group, which is separate to the political party, has claimed on social media the severity of last Sunday's vigilante attack "in the dark of night" was the fault of the bailiffs who had "the opportunity to walk away".
Fianna Fáil TD Eugene Murphy, who lives 5km from the McGanns, last night appealed for calm and to let everybody work to settle the "critical" situation.