Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Justice must be blind, regardless of connections

The furore created by very senior Sinn Fein politicians - including Executive Ministers such as Conor Murphy - following the decision by the Serious Organised Crimes Agency (SOCA) to freeze the assets of senior south Armagh republican Sean Hughes in connection with suspected money-laundering demonstrates that Sinn Fein have no concept what the rule of law actually means.

Such interventions and the fact that a local Sinn Fein councillor complained about "faceless securocrats" and "political raids by SOCA" does absolutely nothing to build unionist confidence that the conditions are even close to being in place for the devolution of policing and justice.

We simply cannot have a legal system in which the police and the courts are only allowed to act against those whom Sinn Fein permit them to act against. It is not acceptable for any political party - let alone one with a track record like Sinn Fein - to be allowed to pick and choose who or what is or is not investigated.

This contravenes one of the most basic principles of justice, in that justice must be blind. It must apply equally to every citizen, regardless of the political party they support, what political connections they may have, their religious, racial, ethnic or social background. That is what equality means and it is clear that, even though Sinn Fein are very good at lecturing the rest of us about equality, they have no idea of what it actually entails. Sinn Fein are clearly a long way from proving themselves on this issue and the DUP would do well to take that onboard before any more deals.

BILLY ARMSTRONG MLA

Mid-Ulster

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