Sinn Féin has been accused of "using" families who claim to be victims of Garda malpractice by comparing their treatment by the Government to that of Belfast rape victim Maíria Cahill.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said it was “disingenuous” of Sinn Féin to compare her failure to meet families who allege miscarriages of justice with the Taoiseach’s decision to meet Ms Cahill.
She was responding to Sinn Féin’s spokesman for justice Padriaig Mac Lochlainn, who said that, “for reasons of political opportunism”, Ms Fitzgerald had “embraced one particular case and ignored many families in this State”.
Ms Fitzgerald said complaints by a number of families about the Garda handling of cases are being examined by an independent review mechanism.
“It is not appropriate for me, as minister for justice, to be meeting those families at the same time,” she said.
The review body, announced as part of the justice reform programme, will involve seven barristers examining 200 complaints to public representatives alleging garda misconduct.
Ms Fitzgerald said there was no comparison to the Cahill case. “The central issue... is not how her case was handled by the agencies in Northern Ireland, but how it was handled by the Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin,” she said.
“While there are mechanisms in place to ensure that the agencies of this State and I are accountable, no one appears to be accountable for how she was treated by the Provisional movement.”
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