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Gerry Adams: Michael Noonan was not pulled before Special Criminal Court for Fine Gael tax offences

Sinn Fein leader insists 'Slab' should have at least got a jury trial

By John Downing

Published 12/02/2016

Republic of Ireland's finance minister Michael Noonan
Republic of Ireland's finance minister Michael Noonan

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said it is 'interesting' that Michael Noonan "was not pulled before the Special Criminal Court" for tax offences committed by Fine Gael during his leadership.

Mr Adams again insisted that Thomas 'Slab' Murphy should at least have been tried by jury and not before the jury-less Special Criminal Court.

But he said that Sinn Fein believed everyone should make tax returns and pay tax - and he refused to comment on the potential voter impact of Mr Murphy being sentenced on polling day, February 26.

"It is interesting that the Fine Gael party under Michael Noonan's watch failed to make tax returns. There were colossal sums of money involved but Michael Noonan was not pulled before the Special Criminal Court - they went and they sorted it out," Mr Adams told reporters in a break from canvassing in Dundalk.

The Sinn Fein leader said people in many walks of life had difficulty with the Revenue, including people in broadcasting and journalists. He said up to 2,000 people per year failed to make tax returns - which was their duty to do and also their duty to pay what was due.

He stressed his belief that everybody must pay their taxes - or face whatever consequences arose from failing to do so. "Our issue is that if it needed to come to court, that it should have been before a jury," Mr Adams added.

Mr Adams was again asked about the potential effect of the man he described as "a good Republican" being sentenced on polling day. He said he was not prepared to discuss what he viewed as a hypothetical question.

"But would you say Michael Noonan was not 'a good Fine Gaeler'?" the Sinn Fein leader asked.

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He further argued that Sinn Fein's stance on abolishing the Special Criminal Court did not affect the level of crime on the streets in recent days. He said the two incidents of killing had happened largely because successive governments had left garda numbers dwindle.

Mr Adams said Fianna Fail closed Templemore Garda College and the current Government continued to allow the force's strength to fall by 3,500 officers in total. He said the drug dealing and abuse was now "an epidemic" in towns and villages around the country.

He said that the Dail record would show that he and others had often raised the problem of garda numbers and resources. "That is what is being exploited by the gun gangs who carried out these brutal killings," Mr Adams said.

"The Tom Murphy case will come and go. These problems will remain unless and until a government is prepared to the safety of its citizens before the interests of certain individuals," Mr Adams said.

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