Outburst comes amid growing fears of witness intimidation and interference
Gerry Adams' attack on the Republic's Special Criminal Court and his support for Provo boss Thomas 'Slab' Murphy comes amid growing concern over witness intimidation and interference in cases in the border area.
In all instances the cases involved figures associated with the IRA's massive organised criminal empire based in south Armagh. This has been allowed to flourish under the peace process with many people seeing it as resulting from a 'blind eye' policy by the British and Irish governments to IRA criminality.
IRA intimidation of witnesses led to the establishment of the current Special Criminal Court in the early 1970s at the height of a campaign which claimed the lives of 12 gardaí.
The old Special Court in Dublin's Green Street was bombed in July 1976 when the IRA organised the breakout of prisoners, including the bomb-maker James 'Mortar' Monaghan.
He went on to achieve notoriety after he was arrested in Colombia while training the FARC terrorist group in August 2001.
In February 1976 a letter bomb was sent to the home of Special Court judge Denis Pringle, a day before he was to hear a major case against the IRA.
The growth in the number of cases, both terrorist and 'ordinary' organised criminal, and the evidence of intimidation in border areas, has led the Irish government to finally agree to the establishment of a second non-jury court to expedite and secure safe hearings.
In one instance it is known the IRA were able to use a mole within the Garda to interfere with evidence and this is now under investigation. The suspect has retired from the force.
Adams' attack on the Special Court was probably a 'calculated' political decision, one republican source said yesterday.
"He knows there will be a backlash but you will hear a lot of 'whataboutery' out of him now, like, 'What about the millionaires and dodgy bankers who weren't prosecuted?', that kind of thing. That's what he's at," one source said.
Adams' attack and his buddying up to Murphy caused disgust among gardai.
The Sinn Fein president's statement came just two days after the anniversary of the IRA's murder of trainee garda Gary Sheehan and Private Patrick Kelly, a former senior gardai pointed out yesterday.