Minister for Justice Michael McDowell today challenged republicans to come clean over their links with criminal activities.
Mr McDowell said Sinn Féin was duty-bound to explain why two party members were convicted of IRA membership in a Dublin court.
Niall Binead, also known as Niall Bennett, (aged 35), of Faughart Road, Crumlin and Kenneth Donohoe, (aged 26), of Sundale Avenue, Mountain View, Tallaght, both Dublin, were convicted at the Special Criminal Court last week after their arrest on October 10, 2004.
Binead is a key election worker for Aengus O’Snodaigh, the Sinn Féin Dublin TD.
“The last two years I have been saying that criminality and the IRA are an ongoing phenomenon,” Mr McDowell said.
“I have been asked to put up and shut up, and I think now is the time for other people to put up an explanation of what was happening on that day.”
After Binead and Donohoe were arrested, a garda search of Binead’s house found a list naming leading Irish politicians including former Justice Minister John O’Donoghue, Fine Gael’s Jim Mitchell and Des O’Malley of the Progressive Democrats.
Fears have been expressed that publicity from the convictions could disrupt tense negotiations to restart the devolved Northern Ireland Assembly.
Mr O’Snodaigh said the minister failed to take the chance to raise the issue at the highest level of his party.
“He had ample opportunity to raise this matter with our negotiating team yesterday when he was in London meeting them,” he said.
The Dublin TD said Sinn Féin had no need to explain anything to the Justice minister.
Mr O’Snodaigh previously described Binead’s conviction as unsafe.
The two men were remanded on custody last Friday for sentencing on November 30.