“a good friend of mine”

I mentioned the reaction of Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, MP, MLA, to the operational matter of the seizure of assets and searches in south Armagh this morning – “Sean Hughes is a sound Republican.” [Is that like being a “good republican”? – Ed] Possibly. He also told BBC NI’s Martina Purdy that Sean Hughes was “a very good friend” of his “a good friend of mine and has been for very many years and I’m very proud of that.” [BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra approx 13mins in]. Here’s some more from Conor Murphy’s statement

“Sean has been charged with nothing. Neither have any members of his family. It is unacceptable. Undoubtedly many people will see a more sinister hand behind the SOCA operation this morning. SOCA is based in and run from London. As in the past when political unionism gets itself into difficulties, as the DUP have in recent weeks, the faceless opponents of Irish Republicanism who are still in prominent positions will seek to come to their rescue with operations like we have witnessed today.”

[The securocrats are back! – Ed] And on Stormont Live today Conor Murphy’s NI Executive colleague, Sinn Féin’s Michelle Gildernew, MP, MLA, was asked by Jim Fitzpatrick, “Was [Conor Murphy] not prejudging an operational process there, and what does it say about your party’s support and desire for the devolution of policing and justice?”

[Michelle Gildernew] “Well, I think if anything it strengthens the need to have devolution of policing and justice as quickly as possible. We need decisions, we need accountability, and we need decisions to be taken by a local minister.”

More from that Stormont Live interview

[Michelle Gildernew] “I don’t know all the details of the raid, but there have been a number of things that have happened recently where decisions have been taken we’re not happy about and we will want to be asking very very serious questions to the policing board and to Matt Baggot”

When questioned, by Mark Devenport, about Conor Murphy getting involved in an operational matter

[Michelle Gildernew] “Like I say, I don’t know all the details, but I think Conor is entitled to react when a constituent has been treated in the way that his constituent was, I think it was this morning. You know, we have to stand up for the rights of our constituents, there’s no dichotomy in that, and we’ll continue to do that and we’ll continue to question where policing seems to be political or seems to be badly judged. Certainly in this case I don’t know what the justification for it was, but I think Conor was right to come out and react the way he did.

Which prompted Jim Fitzpatrick’s final question

[Jim Fitzpatrick] “If you don’t know the justification for it presumably Conor Murphy doesn’t, might it not be best to wait ’til that is clear?”

[Michelle Gildernew] “Well I don’t know what the, like I say, I don’t know what the rationale was for that, but I feel that the arrest this morning, or the raid on the home was politically motivated and, from that point of view, Conor as MP for Newry and Armagh was entitled to question that decision.”

Adds From BBC Radio Ulster’s Evening Extra [approx 13 mins in]

[Martina Purdy] “You know this man personally and you’re vouching for him?”

[Conor Murphy] “I’m not like other people, I’ll not say I know of him. I know him very well. He’s a good friend of mine and has been for very many years and I’m very proud of that.”