Friday 20 April 2018

Sinn Fein election candidate Louise O'Reilly 'condemns' killing of Garda Jerry McCabe, hours after telling RTE's Claire Byrne 'I don't think it's that simple'

Louise O’Reilly and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Louise O’Reilly and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

Philip Ryan and Maeve Sheehan

A Sinn Fein general election candidate who refused to condemn the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe by Provision IRA killer Pearse McAuley on RTE Radio has tweeted she "condemn(s) it unreservedly".

Louise O'Reilly, a first time general election candidate for Sinn Fein in the Dublin Fingal constituency, has been branded “disgusting” for refusing to condemn the brutal killing of Garda Jerry McCabe during her appearance on RTE Radio One's 'Saturday with Claire Byrne'.

Louise O’Reilly and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Louise O’Reilly and Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

However, she tweeted at 6.30pm this evening: "1/2 Re today's Claire Byrne show: To clarify, the killing of Garda McCabe was unjustifiable. I condemn it unreservedly....

"2/2 .. Unfortunately,that is a difficult point to make when rounded on by 4 interviewers, 2 who are using issue for political point scoring."

On the programme this afternoon, Ms O'Reilly said “I don’t think it’s that simple” when asked by Claire Byrne did she think Garda McCabe’s death was wrong.

Pearse McAuley was convicted of killing Garda McCabe in Adare in 1996.

Slain garda Jerry McCabe
Slain garda Jerry McCabe

During a heated discussion on the radio programme, Ms O'Reilly was asked repeatedly by commentator Noel Whelan, Labour's Kevin Humphreys, Fianna Fail's John McGuinness and Irish Independent columnist Colette Browne to condemn the killing of Gda McCabe. She was also asked if she believed it was right that Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris picked up McAuley in a van following his release from prison after serving a term for the garda's killing. Mr Whelan told listeners that Sinn Fein's "moral compass" would be looked at by voters in the upcoming election - and voters will have an issue voting for Sinn Fein if taking that into account.

Ms O'Reilly refused to answer the question at first, saying that there was only one interviewer in the studio, and she would only take questions from Claire Byrne.

She also told panellists that this was not among the "issues" brought up on the doors when she was out canvassing.

Claire subsequently asked the question.

“I find this absolutely hilarious to be frank with you because – I’m sorry I shouldn’t have used the word hilarious, that was wrong of me," she responded

She then told listeners she thought it "incredulous" for politicians and members of the media to bring up this issue when other matters such as water charges were brought up on the doorsteps.

Martin Ferris (centre), in the van that collected Pearse McAuley and Kevin Walsh on their release from Castlerea Prison.
Martin Ferris (centre), in the van that collected Pearse McAuley and Kevin Walsh on their release from Castlerea Prison.

She was pressed again as to whether she believed Garda McCabe's murder was wrong.

"I don't think it's that simple," she said.

She added there had been "rights and wrongs on both sides".

Earlier this week, Pearse McAuley was sentenced to 12 years in prison for a frenzied knife attack on his wife Pauline Tully McAuley.

Ms O’Reilly’s refusal to condemn the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe sparked instant anger among politicians and listeners to the radio show.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said it was “shocking” that Ms O’Reilly would not condemn the killing or say McAuley was wrong.

Fianna Fail Dublin Fingal election candidate Lorraine Clifford-Lee said the remarks were “disgusting”.

“I was deeply alarmed by the comments made by Louise O’Reilly on national radio earlier today. When asked if she condemned the brutal murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe she sought to deflect the question. When she was pressed on the issue she went on to allude that the people of Dublin Fingal do not care about the murder of Gardai,” said Ms Clifford Lee.

Dublin Fingal TD for Fine Gael Alan Farrell also rounded on Ms O’Reilly for her reaction to the questioning.

“I want to state my utter abhorrence that a person seeking election to Dáil Éireann would not condemn the murder of a member of An Garda Síochána. Murder is murder. If you cannot or will not condemn it, you support it. This is a chilling but timely reminder of why Sinn Fein is not fit to govern our country,” Mr Farrell said.

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