Kenny criticises SF for drawing distinction between killing of gardaí and RUC officers
There was no hierarchy of victims from the Troubles, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said as he again criticised Sinn Féin over the distinction it made between the killing of gardaí and RUC officers.
During sharp exchanges in the Dáil, he said Sinn Féin seemed to have a difference of view between a member of the Garda Síochána and the RUC being murdered.
But he said “we do not have any hierarchy when somebody is shot, blown up or killed. There is no discrimination in the sense of loss for whoever that might apply to”, and he would emphasise that point to relatives of those killed in Kingsmill and Ballymurphy.
Mr Kenny was speaking during questions on the North and the Government’s relationship with Britain.
Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the Taoiseach should “not insult An Garda Síochána by saying that it is an equivalent of the RUC”, whom she described as “combatants” in the conflict.
RUC ‘disbanded for reason’
She said the RUC had been disbanded “for good reason”.
The Government and the Belfast Agreement, to which the State was a signatory, “recognised that fact and was the vehicle for disbanding it”.
Ms McDonald said she absolutely acknowledged the trauma for every family irrespective of who they were from, “arising from the loss of life in the course of the conflict, be they a police officer, a soldier, an IRA volunteer, a UVF volunteer. Whoever they were, the loss of human life and the scale of it was an immense tragedy and a failure of politics.”
But the RUC was “disbanded, discredited, swept away and a new policing dispensation, on which we are still working, was introduced”.
The Dublin Central TD said the Taoiseach knew that as well as she did and “I ask you not to use that matter to have a cheap jibe at me. If you’re going to have a go at me, you should do so on a substantive point.”
But Mr Kenny said trying “to turn on that spit is a bit Irish”. He said “we had long and very hard discussions here about the death of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in Adare and we had Sinn Féin at the time making the case for holding up the peace agreement” until his killers were released.
He told Ms McDonald “you can’t have it both ways” and she should not try to turn the argument on its head to say An Garda Síochána was in any way like the RUC. The Sinn Féin TD said they were not the same and “that’s exactly my point, no more than the Taoiseach would advocate on behalf of the Black and Tans, I trust”.
But Mr Kenny said her argument was “nonsensical”. She should say the murder, blowing up or assassination of anybody deprived families of loved ones.
Ms McDonald replied “I have said that but I made the clear distinction between the RUC and An Garda Síochána”.