Letter controversy – Gardaí must investigate allegations

The arrogance of those seeking to gloss over the Lorcan Allen letter controversy is breathtaking.

This is not an issue of due process in which judgment should be suspended because the accused is entitled to the presumption of innocence.

Mr Allen has already admitted that he was responsible for sending out bogus letters that were supposedly signed by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern calling on constituents for support in the local election.

It is not the first time that the controversy has arisen over Mr Ahern’s signature.

We had the tribunal revelations that he signed blank cheques on the party leader’s fund, and they were later used to divert funds to the private account of Charles J Haughey.

Now we have the spectacle of Mr Ahern’s signature being used without his permission to engage in electoral deception. This is a further affront to the democratic process. The Tánaiste declared in the Dáil that “it is perhaps, inevitably, a matter for the garda”.

There should be no “perhaps” about it. Serious allegations have been made and those should be investigated by the gardaí without waiting for an invitation from any party to do so.

Law enforcement should be a police matter, not a political consideration.

Once a crime is suspected, there should be no question of the Garda Síochána waiting for Fianna Fáil to make a formal complaint before investigating the matter, because otherwise it amounts to suggesting that the party has the right to determine the criminal law in relation to its own operations.

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