Belfast Telegraph

Adams' judgment in question

Editor's Viewpoint

Gerry Adams is almost uniquely capable of making extraordinary statements with a straight face, in the expectation that people will take them seriously.

His latest intervention, after the Thomas 'Slab' Murphy court conviction in Dublin for tax evasion, is quite astonishing, but not all that surprising, such is the parallel world which Mr Adams inhabits.

He claims that Murphy is a "good republican", and that he has been treated unfairly because of his non-jury trial. Adams further claims that others convicted of similar crimes have not been subjected to the same banner headlines.

The complex case was heard before three judges in the Special Criminal Court in Dublin after an investigation by the Irish Criminal Assets Bureau.

Not surprisingly, Adams' remarks have been widely condemned. The former Irish Justice Minister Alan Shatter claims that Adams wants to abolish the Irish Special Criminal Court, and that a Sinn Fein-led government, supported by independents, "would give impunity to terrorists and criminal gangs by facilitating jury intimidation".

He goes further by stating that "no one should be fooled by Sinn Fein's false theatrical concern expressed for the rule of law during the lifetime of the current Dail. It is nothing more than cynical attention-seeking and headline grabbing".

There are serious questions to be asked about Mr Adams' judgment. Who would want to sit on a jury hearing a case against Slab Murphy? It is also hard to see how Adams' close support for Murphy can lead to more votes in the Irish election.

Recent security reports have claimed that IRA members believe that the Army Council oversees both the Provisionals and Sinn Fein with an over-arching strategy. There is also ample evidence of continuing large-scale smuggling and violence, including murders.

Since the Good Friday Agreement, there has been a perception of a blind eye being turned to some of the worst of these activities, which has strained our often fragile peace.

There is therefore an onus on all politicians to help build up this peace, and not to make special cases for certain individuals. The fall-out from the Slab Murphy conviction has all the hallmarks of a political party battening down the hatches, hopefully until the bad news fades into history.

Belfast Telegraph


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