Both the Sunday Tribune and the Sunday Independent carry an embarrassing story for Sinn Féin.
It concerns the relationship between SF TD Aengus O Snodaigh and SF’s Niall Bennett/Binead, who was convicted of IRA membership on Thursday. This came about after the arrest of men in connection with a planned lorry hijack. During the course of this investigation an IRA Dirty Tricks operation against members of the Dáil was uncovered, details of which seem similar to activities in NI that, in part, led to the collapse of the Stormont executive.It certainly helps explain the exchange below as reported in the Sunday Independent.
It would also appear that by at least May of last year, the Minister for Justice was aware of Bennett’s relationship with Aengus O Snodaigh.
During a Dail debate on policing in the North on May 15 last year, McDowell had a sharp exchange with O Snodaigh during which the Minister referred to “certain company” kept by the Sinn Fein deputy.
O Snodaigh called on the minister to “withdraw the aspersion”.
To which Justice Minister Michael McDowell replied:
“I am talking about the people with whom the Deputy is closely associated and he knows very well that I am talking about them. He knows exactly what I mean. I say again, if everybody was choosy about the past associates of everybody that they did business with, very little business would be done. I am saying that the Deputy, personally, should bear this in mind.”
O Snodaigh: “I ask the Minister to withdraw the aspersion against my character that I keep bad company. That is what he said. He stated that the company I keep is unsuitable. I ask him – if he has information about which I do not know – to explain who those people are so that I might not keep bad company.”