Gerry Adams on Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy’s tax evasion: Yeah but, no but, yeah but, no but…

After the guilty verdict in the trial of, “key supporter of the Sinn Féin peace strategy”, Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy on 9 charges of tax evasion, Gerry Adams, TD, declared that he had “no comment to make until the legal process has been concluded”.

Following criticism of that position the Sinn Féin president has, apparently, decided that some comment would be appropriate after all.

The has his initial further comment, and the Sinn Féin website has a further, further version.  From the report

[Gerry Adams] I am conscious that the legal process involving Tom Murphy has yet to be concluded, naturally full comment should be reserved until that process has ended.

However let me be clear, everyone has a duty to pay the taxes for which they are liable. There can be no equivocation on this whatsoever. Those who for any reason have been in default of tax returns need to rectify this and need to ensure that tax returns are in order and in accordance with the law.

I believe that Tom Murphy has been treated unfairly. All citizens have the right to be judged by a jury of their peers.

[Would that be the Ard Chomhairle or the Army Council? – Ed]  You might very well think that…

Mr Adams continued,

It is extraordinary that a case involving a failure to complete tax returns is heard before a non-jury court. Tom Murphy’s rights have been denied to him.

There have been many prominent public figures accused of tax irregularities including TDs. They have not been treated in the same fashion as Mr Murphy. Neither have they been labelled as criminals by those media outlets currently writing lurid headlines about Mr Murphy.

I have been asked if I consider Tom Murphy a good republican. The answer to that is yes.

Mr Murphy has vigorously contested the allegations against him.

[That’s you told! – Ed]  Yes, well…  “Tom Murphy” exercised every right available to him in his attempts to halt the trial.  That’s why there was a ten-year delay in the charges coming to court.  Ultimately the Irish Supreme Court decided that it was fair.  And there is very little ordinary about a Criminal Assets Bureau investigation.

The Belfast Telegraph notes the reaction to Gerry Adams’ latest comments on tax evasion “Tom Murphy”

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the comments show Sinn Fein is more concerned with protecting their own than “respecting and enforcing the rule of law”.

“Decent republicans are tax compliant,” Mr Martin said.

“This is yet another example of Adams not facing up to the paramilitary criminality that is ongoing in parts of the North and border counties.

“His comments, when read alongside the recent independent report into paramilitary activity in the North, provide a chilling insight into how Mr Adams and his organisation do their business,” he added.

The Republic’s Junior Finance Minister Simon Harris said there would be public outrage if any other party leader was to back a convicted criminal.

“If any other party leader not only refused to condemn the actions of an individual convicted of a crime but sought to somehow defend their actions there would be an outcry,” Mr Harris told the Sunday Independent.

“When people evade tax it is the citizens of this State who actually lose out. For a man who constantly professes to being concerned about protecting the public services it seems bizarre that he thinks his buddy should not have to pay his taxes,” he added.

Renua leader Lucinda Creighton also lashed Gerry Adams’ support for Murphy, saying it “sends out a dangerously equivocal message”.

“The essence of being a good republican is respect for the law and paying taxes that sustain critical services. Mr Murphy has failed on all those counts,” she said.

Ed Moloney has an explanation for Gerry Adams’ unequivocal equivocation in this particular case.

‘Slab’ was the IRA’s Chief of Staff from 1997 until…..well probably now, given that we now have official confirmation that the Army Council still exists and continues to run the IRA.

He took over at a delicate stage in the peace process – the Adams leadership had just survived, by the skin of its teeth, a vigorous challenge from Michael McKevitt at a General Army Convention – and ‘Slab’ was chosen to replace Tyrone veteran Kevin McKenna, who had held the post since 1983.

He was selected to steady the ship and he did that with considerable aplomb.

‘Slab’ was the man in charge during the most politically tumultuous years of the peace process which saw a split in the IRA, the Good Friday Agreement and the embrace of hitherto despised heresies:  partition, the Stormont parliament, the  power-sharing government, the principle of consent, the gradual decommissioning of IRA weapons and, finally, the PSNI.

It is very possible that without a man in charge of the IRA who not only had led the organisation in South Armagh, the byword for fierce Republican resistance to the British, but who had himself a lengthy and impressive personal military track record, the Adams’ leadership might not have survived. Who could accuse Adams of a sellout when the leadership in South Armagh supported him?

Read the whole thing.