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Sinn Fein chief Adams blasted for claiming IRA were not criminals

By Cate McCurry

Published 23/12/2015

Gerry Adams has lent his support to Thomas 'Slab' Murphy
Gerry Adams has lent his support to Thomas 'Slab' Murphy
Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy
Jeffrey Donaldson
Kenny Donaldson

Victims have hit out at Gerry Adams after the Sinn Fein president said he did not believe that people involved in the IRA were criminals.

The comments were made as Mr Adams faced more questions about the conviction of prominent republican Thomas 'Slab' Murphy yesterday.

The Sinn Fein leader said the non-jury trial of the 66-year-old for tax evasion was "just plain wrong" and went on to describe the case against the alleged former IRA leader and peace process supporter as merely "allegations", despite his conviction in the courts.

Speaking about the conviction outside Leinster House in Dublin, Mr Adams told reporters: "I don't believe that people who were involved in the IRA, if he was involved in the IRA, are criminal."

His remarks sparked outrage from an IRA victims' group, which has accused him of causing further pain to people already struggling with loss.

Kenny Donaldson, from Innocent Victims United, said the republican leadership had "sought for decades to decriminalise their terror campaign".

He added: "The IRA victims know the truth, and those who have their senses about them know the truth.

"He is being a compulsive liar on these issues, but we don't expect anything different.

"It throws to the side any view that there's a genuine intention to actually deal with the past and the suffering that was created by the republican movement.

"Gerry Adams' comments cause further pain to the innocent victims of PIRA terrorism, and he and others who subscribe to the PIRA Constitution believe that they are the true Government of Ireland. Therefore, by that warped logic, they cannot be criminals.

"The leadership of the republican movement have sought for decades to decriminalise their terror campaign, which was motivated by ethnic and sectarian influences."

The DUP victims' spokesman, Jeffrey Donaldson, said the law was very clear on those involved in paramilitary organisations.

"Membership of such an organisation is a criminal offence which is prohibited under the terrorism act, so I'm afraid that Mr Adams is wrong in terms of his definition of the law," he said.

"But we believe he is also morally wrong, because anyone who is involved in paramilitarism or allegedly involved in organised crime cannot be described as anything other than a criminal.

"We are having an ongoing discussion about the legacy of our troubled past, and I think Sinn Fein need to get real about how we define that past.

"There is no point in trying to re-write the history of the Troubles and to paint the IRA in some kind of glorious light because that's not how the victims see it, and that's the reality of the situation."

Mr Adams went on to reiterate his backing for fraudster Murphy and said he took issue with the tax evasion case taking place in the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

"My issue is against the Special Criminal Court and the Offences Against the State Act, and the fact that that court was used to deal with a case which was about a failure, allegedly, which Tom Murphy contests, to make tax returns," he told reporters yesterday.

Murphy, an former IRA leader, from Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth - a farm that straddles the border with Northern Ireland - was convicted of nine charges of tax evasion following a 32-day trial at Dublin's non-jury Special Criminal Court.

Mr Adams said Murphy had played a leading role in winning support for a series of propositions in the peace process.

The Sinn Fein leader added that international human rights bodies have also argued for the three judge non-jury Special Criminal Court to be axed.

However, the Irish Government is creating a second court division to deal with a large backlog in such cases.

Belfast Telegraph

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