McDowell sets a dangerous precedent

ON Pat Kenny’s radio programme last Monday, Justice Minister Michael McDowell defended his action during the televised leaders’ debate in challenging Gerry Adams on the Colombia Three and FARC.

However, this accusation has potentially serious ramifications for all of us, not just Sinn Féin.

It raises fundamental questions about the underlying principles of justice and democratic accountability.

Let’s suppose Mr McDowell genuinely believes his latest ‘red scare’ election tactic and decides the alternative coalition must be stopped “in the national interest”.

As justice minister he has access to garda, revenue and welfare files on his political opponents and their families and could presumably leak a variety of stories to journalists, at national and local level, which would damage those opponents.

Is this acceptable, based on Mr McDowell’s judgement of the national interest?

He has, at very least, created the precedent for future office-holders to abuse their sources of information for political purposes.

This is a highly dangerous state of affairs and one which should not be tolerated in a democracy.

Peter Molloy

9 Haddington Park

Glenageary

Co Dublin

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