UNDER-Fire Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has said judges “make mistakes” in the face of public backlash over his support of convicted tax cheat Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy.
In his latest attack on the justice system, Mr Adams suggested judges cannot be trusted to make rulings on tax evasion in the Special Criminal Court.
During a robust press conference outside Leinster House, Mr Adams also insisted it is his belief that former IRA members are not criminals.
However, he claimed he did not know if Slab Murphy was ever in the IRA or if he was the terrorists group’s former chief of staff.
Asked if he accepted the Special Criminal Court’s ruling against Murphy for tax fraud, the Sinn Fein TD noted that the court acknowledged that it did not have experience of these cases and asked the prosecution to produce examples.
“Do I think judges can’t make mistakes? No, I think judges can make mistakes and I think the certainty for citizens is that we are tried by our peers. That is the safest process, and juries can make mistakes as well, but that’s the safest process,” Mr Adams added.
He repeatedly insisted that the Special Criminal Court is not the appropriate court to deal with “refusals or failures” to pay taxes.
Mr Adams claimed he first met Murphy during the peace process and insisted the convicted tax cheat played a “leadership role” in bringing peace to Northern Ireland.
He said he and his Sinn Fein colleagues have “paid the price” for standing up to dissident republicans and criminals and said it is “nonsense” to suggest they do not support the rule of law.
“My home has been regularly under attack. Martin McGuinness as well. Some people in South Armagh have actually been shot. One young man was blinded in his eye because of his family’s opposition against all of this,” he said.
“This notion that Sinn Fein is ambivalent on the rule of law is nonsense. Sinn Fein is very clear on all citizens needing to pay whatever taxes because we wouldn’t have the type of public services Sinn Fein aspires to bring in, if we get a mandate, unless we had a tax take that could fund that,” he added.
He said reports of unease within Sinn Fein over his support of a convicted fraudster are “wishful thinking” on behalf of Independent Newspapers and other news agencies.