O’Rourke forced to withdraw remark over mother’s murder

SENATOR Mary O’Rourke withdrew comments yesterday after concern she had inadvertently attributed the murder of Baiba Saulite to the Latvian’s husband.

Speaking in the Seanad, the Government leader referred to a newspaper report on the execution-style killing of the mother of two at the weekend.

“It is difficult to read the article in the Irish Independent today which states that the husband of the murdered Latvian woman is a suspect. He has a cast-iron alibi but was obviously able to direct operations,” she said.

Fine Gael justice spokesman Jim O’Keeffe denounced the comments, saying they could prejudice a future trial.

Senator O’Rourke later returned to the Seanad to retract her remarks.

“When I was responding to the Order of Business this morning, I may have inadvertently given the impression that the murder of the young Latvian woman, Baiba Saulite, was guided by a particular person.

“I cannot do that, nor should I do it. I have great faith in the garda and our justice system and I am sure whoever carried out that dreadful crime will be brought to justice,” she said.

When asked what she had meant by her earlier comments and whether she agreed with Fine Gael they may endanger a future trial, Ms O’Rourke declined to comment further.

Mr O’Keeffe cited the precedent of when then Progressive Democrat leader and Tánaiste Mary Harney commented publicly on the affairs of former Taoiseach Charles Haughey.

Ms Harney’s public assertion that Mr Haughey should go to jail after he was brought to trial on charges of obstructing the work of the McCracken Tribunal, helped prejudice the case and it was effectively thrown out.

“All public representatives should be extremely careful when commenting on active criminal cases so that they do not risk prejudicing any future trial.

“The main thing one can do for the late Ms Saulite is to ensure that those responsible for her killing are prosecuted and convicted,” Mr O’Keeffe said.

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