"A Sinn Féin-led government would give impunity to terrorists and criminal gangs" - Shatter

Speaking on the conviction of Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, Gerry Adams said "all citizens have the right to be judged by a jury of their peers"

Former Minister for Justice and Fine Gael TD Alan Shatter launched a broadside against Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, accusing him of wanting to shut down the Special Criminal Court.

Shatter dismissed the party's stance on law and order as "cynical attention seeking," and said a Sinn Féin-led government "would give impunity to terrorists and criminal gangs by facilitating jury intimidation."

His comments follow a statement by Adams yesterday in which he criticised the recent conviction for tax evasion of noted republican Thomas 'Slab' Murphy.

Calling Murphy a "good republican," Adams said it is extraordinary that a case involving a failure to complete tax returns was heard before the non-jury Special Criminal Court, and that "all citizens have the right to be judged by a jury of their peers."

This comment, Shatter said, highlights Sinn Féin's hatred for the court, which remains an important part of the judicial system:

"It was established in the 1970s to ensure those engaged in terrorism could be prosecuted without the law being subverted by jury intimidation.

"Many of those guilty of murder, barbaric assaults, bank robberies and arms offences have been convicted and jailed by the court. To protect the security of the State and the rule of law the Special Criminal Court is still required."

Shatter called on Adams to "end all ambiguity" and announce his stance on the court, adding that Adams' comments show Sinn Féin is unfit for Government.