The Sinn Féin leader came under pressure on the issue of the Special Criminal Court and organised crime during the TV3 leaders’ debate on Thursday, and now he faces further criticism.
Retired garda and Jerry McCabe’s brother-in-law Pat Kearney said Mr Adams had “some cheek” and was “totally hypocritical” in attacking the Government on the subject of Garda resources when his party “stood by IRA killers who reduced garda numbers by assassination”.
“Jerry McCabe was shot dead by Pearse McAuley and Kevin Walsh,” said Mr Kearney. “Martin Ferris collected them from jail in 2009 when they were freed and his Sinn Féin colleagues backed him for this sickening display of support for people who brutally gunned down a decent garda going about his duty.
“That was Sinn Féin less than seven years ago and that’s Sinn Féin today. People should remember that on polling day.”
Upon the killers’ release in 2009, Mr Adams said he deeply regretted the “great loss and hurt” suffered by the McCabe family, as well as saying the IRA members responsible had also apologised for the hurt and grief they had caused.
However, Mr Kearney said that, having supported his brother-in-law’s killers, it was hypocritical for Sinn Féin to now demand an end to the Special Criminal Court which convicted them.
Sinn Féin has said the non-jury Special Criminal Court breaches the human rights of defendants to be tried by their peers.
“What about the rights of Jerry McCabe and his family?” said Mr Kearney.
He said the Special Criminal Court had proved very efficient in combating the criminal underworld.
“We had experience of it in the trial of the thugs that murdered Jerry. The Special Criminal Court performed very well in bringing those murderers to justice,” he said.
Meanwhile, with Sinn Féin proposing that the trials of potentially dangerous criminals be held in the presence of juries rather than the Special Criminal Court, a solicitor has given an insight into the intimidation those involved in such cases can face — including Special Criminal Court judges themselves.
Clonakilty-based solicitor Jim Brooks recalled how, at the height of the Troubles in the North, he was in Dublin and met one of the sitting judges in the Special Criminal Court, Sean MacD Fawsitt.
Mr Brooks said the judge had recently been appointed to the court and told him how he had received a phonecall at home on the eve of travelling to Dublin to hear his first case, one which involved an IRA defendant.
The caller told him “it would be his best interests” to deliver a judgement favourable to the defendant. Judge MacD Fawsitt hung up the phone. Seconds later it rang again. He was asked not to put the phone down and told “we know all about your family”. Again he hung up.
In a third call, Judge MacD Fawsitt was told that “we know where they [his children] go to school. We know lots about them.”
When he hung up yet again the phone rang immediately and he was told: “Judge, just to remind you that we know a lot about you and you might like to know that your bathroom window is open.”
When the judge hung up, he checked. His bathroom window was open.
“The judge was not intimidated,” said Mr Brooks.
“He was a very resilient man and was not going to be easily intimidated, notwithstanding. One can only imagine what effect this type of call would have on a jury member.”
Mr Brooks said that he recently spoke to a member of Judge MacD Fawsitt’s family, who told him the judge had never told them about what had happened.
“It always confirmed to me, the importance of the Special Criminal Court, and recent events would confirm that emphatically,” said Mr Brooks.