Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has declined to repeat the claim that Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy is a good republican after a BBC Spotlight programme raised fresh concerns over his history.
She refused to restate the phrase at the launch of her party’s latest call for the Moore Street 1916 site to be saved by the next government.
Asked about the BBC programme’s allegation that Mr Murphy is a “mass murderer” who “sent those people out to commit murder on behalf of the provisional IRA”, Ms McDonald repeatedly said he, like every other citizen, is accountable to the law.
However, she declined to repeat her party leader Gerry Adams’ previous claim that Mr Murphy is a “good republican”, instead saying: “That’s all I have to say on that matter.”
Mr Murphy faces a fresh date at the Special Criminal Court today after being investigated by the Criminal Assets Bureau.
The apparent switch in open Sinn Féin support for the border farmer came after Mr Adams also failed to repeat the phrase earlier this week.
However, asked why the issue continues to hamper Sinn Féin’s election campaign due to emphasis from Fianna Fáil and others on the matter, Ms McDonald said that “Micheál Martin’s central concern is to distract from the really crucial issues”.
The row follows a separate controversy for the party over its alleged links to paramilitary activities. A report in the North yesterday revealed that a cross-border Sinn Féin fundraising campaign featured another individual who is accused under privilege of links to a number of murders.
The Belfast Telegraph reported that Sean Hughes was recorded promoting the Strictly Come Dancing-style event, which is expected to bring in at least €15,000 for the party.
Mr Hughes has previously been accused, under privilege in Westminster, of being involved in the murder of 21-year-old Paul Quinn in south Armagh a decade ago.
Labour senator Máiría Cahill last night said Mr Quinn had “every bone on his body from his neck down broken” during an assault and that “people walking around south Armagh” know what happened.
Ms Cahill branded the decision to include Mr Hughes in the promotional video as “insensitive” to Mr Quinn’s family, saying they have “never gotten over the horror of what happened to him”.
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