SINN FEIN leader Gerry Adams has been accused of making a dramatic ” conversion ” to cross-border efforts to tackle illegal fuel smuggling. The Louth TD appeared to be distancing himself from South Armagh Republican Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy after a major crackdown on border crime this week.
Mr Murphy (63) was thought to have been one of the main targets in a joint operation by the PSNI/RUC, Gardai and customs officers that saw raids across 11 counties. Diesel laundering plants were smashed on both sides of the border and a large amount of cash, as well as computers, documents and bank statements were seized. After Wednesday’s raids, the Sinn Fein president issued a statement describing the seizures as ” significant “. The Dail deputy also revealed that he had accompanied councillors Edel Corrigan and Jim Loughran to meetings with senior gardai and the PSNI/RUC to push for action against ” fuel laundering criminals “. And he expressed concern at the ” lack of convictions ” that had occurred in the wake of previous discoveries of fuel laundering plants.
However, Mr Adam’s comments appeared to be in marked contrast to his reaction when Mr Murphy’s Hackballscross property was r
aided in 2006 during a probe into a multi-million pound smuggling operation. At the time Mr Adams said : ” Tom Murphy is not a criminal. He is a good republican.” Mr Adams also said he accepted a denial by the alleged ex-IRA their of staff that he was a member of a paramilitary organization.” He is also a keen supporter of Sinn Fein peace strategy,” the former West Belfast MP said seven years ago. Fianna Fail justice spokesman Niall Collins last night questioned what he described as Mr Adam’s ” conversion ” to the cause of tackling illicit fuel laundering. ” It will come as welcome news to many, especially those living in border areas, that Sink Fein now supports police efforts to clamp down on the illegal and dangerous process of fuel laundering, he said. ” The reason for this conversion is unclear but it is dramatic,” Mr Collins said, claiming the Sink Fein leader had previously been ” first in the queue to condemn the police and defend Mr Murphy “. The Deputy leader added that it had been ” widely suspected that the Provisionals had been ” key ” players in the cross border smuggling industry ” for a very long time “. Sinn Fein declined to comment last night. Meanwhile, a case brought against Mr Murphy by the Yards Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) on tax charges is due for mention in Special Criminal Court next week. Mr Murphy is facing nine charges of failing to furnish a return of his income, profits or gains to the Collector General or the Inspector of Taxes for the years 1996/97 to 2004. He is appealing to the Supreme Court after losing a High Court challenge in 2011.
WITH MANY THANKS TO : VALERIE ROBINSON, SOUTHERN CORRESPONDENT, IRISH NEWS.
- IRA chief Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy quizzed after airborne swoops on frontier (belfasttelegraph.co.uk)
- Diesel laundering operation smashed after dawn raids north and south of Irish border (independent.co.uk)
- Politicians voice disgust over SF ‘sham apology’ (independent.ie)