Sinn Fein has defended enlisting convicted criminals to work behind the scenes on the party's general election campaign.
A Sunday Independent investigation has found Sinn Fein's backroom team is filled with criminals convicted of serious offences including bomb making and murder. These criminals include IRA bomber Jim 'Mortar' Monaghan, former Provo hit-squad member Harry Duggan and Lord Mountbatten's killer Thomas McMahon. Others were convicted of IRA membership.
The revelations follow a week of controversy surrounding Gerry Adams over his support of convicted tax cheat and former IRA chief of staff Thomas 'Slab' Murphy.
Mr Adams and his deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald issued strong defences of Murphy after the Special Criminal Court found him guilty of tax evasion.
And last night, the party's justice spokesman Padraig Mac Lochlainn launched an attack on former Justice Minister Alan Shatter for "bizarrely" saying Sinn Fein is "not fit for Government" due to their opposition to the Special Criminal Court.
Mr Mac Lochlainn said Sinn Fein's opposition to the non-jury court is supported by the UN Human Rights Committee, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties and former Irish President Mary Robinson. He was responding to a survey of all Sinn Fein TDs and senators asking do they support the ruling of all courts in the Irish justice system. He was one of two to respond. The other was former IRA gun runner and Kerry TD Martin Ferris.
Mr Ferris said Sinn Fein believes "all people should be treated equally under the law and the law applies to all without favour".
Mr Ferris is not alone in being a convicted criminal within Sinn Fein. Garda killer Tommy Eccles is a prominent member of the party in Louth.
Jim 'Mortar' Monaghan, known for being a third of the Colombia Three, is listed as a PR officer on Sinn Fein's Walkinstown website.
Harry Duggan, who is chair of Sinn Fein in Clare, was a member of the notorious Balcombe Street gang which was responsible for a 14-month campaign of terror in London in the 1970s. He was given a life sentence for murder but released under the Good Friday Agreement.
Thomas McMahon was jailed for 18 years for killing Lord Mountbatten, two teenage boys and an elderly women during one of the most horrific terror attacks of The Troubles.
McMahon, who is part of Sinn Fein's organisation in Monaghan, was also released as part of the peace process.
The last known action, other than smuggling, that the IRA was responsible for in south Armagh was to threaten a woman, aged in her 40s, that if she did not hand over property her family owns to one of the local Provo bosses she would be "found dead in a ditch".
The attack by the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams on the Special Criminal Court and, by extension, the entire criminal justice system, represents a fundamental threat to one of the pillars of the State. As such, it must lead to the conclusion that neither Mr Adams nor Sinn Fein is fit to govern a State, one of the pillars of which they seek to undermine.