Irish Labour Party calls for clarification on IRA claims

The implications of the comments yesterday by Minister of Justice Michael McDowell, and by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, have not been lost on the Irish Labour Party spokesman, Joe Costello, as reported in the Irish Examiner Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris should be put on trial if the Government’s claims that they are members of the IRA’s Army Council are true, the Labour Party insisted last night.No doubt many of the commenters here on Slugger agree.. although, perhaps, for different reasons..

And it will not go unnoticed for long that five people have just been convicted for membership of an illegal organisation at the Special Criminal Court.

From the Irish Examiner report –

“If these claims[by Minister McDowell] are true, these men are guilty of membership of a subversive organisation which is punishable by a five-year jail term,” said Labour spokesman Joe Costello.

“The minister’s statement has huge repercussions and people will want to know will these people be prosecuted.

“A word of a garda superintendent who tells a court he believes someone is a member of proscribed organisation is now sufficient to convict that person.

“Here we have a minister, one of the highest office holders in the land, stating categorically that these three men are members of the IRA Army Council – one of them a member of the Dáil,” Mr Costello added.

In response to the comments by Michael McDowell, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness told RTÉ, “I am not a member of the IRA – I was years ago – I am not a member of IRA Army Council.”

Taioseach Bertie Ahern has, so far, simply stated that he does not know who the members of the IRA army council are.… but it’s difficult to see how he will be able to maintain that position for long.

Especially when, as Defence Minister Willie O’Dea has stated, “We[the Irish Government] are no longer prepared to accept the farce that Sinn Féin and the IRA are separate – they are indivisible”.