Kenny challenges SF on crime

 

Opposition leader Enda Kenny, has challenged Sinn Féin to say how much money it earns from illegal oil dealing on the Border, narcotics and bank robberies.

Speaking as he opened the Parnell Summer School in Co Wicklow yesterday, Mr Kenny said Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris had asked if Fine Gael was receiving money from the Shell oil company.

"The answer is no. Let me challenge Martin Ferris now to be equally candid with me in detailing the income Sinn Féin has received from oil, petrol and diesel in the Border areas, from narcotics through FARC and from the various jobs done on post offices and banks through the years," Mr Kenny said.

In a wide ranging criticism of Sinn Féin, Mr Kenny also said the party had questions to answer about the repatriation of the so-called "Colombia Three", and the present whereabouts of the three men as well as the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe.

Addressing his comments directly to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, Mr Kenny said: "Treat this country with some respect. When we talk of fighting elections we do so metaphorically. That means when we go electioneering the vast majority of us pack up our cars with posters and leaflets, not balaclavas, sten guns, fake Garda uniforms or canisters of CS gas."

Mr Kenny said there was an extraordinary tolerance of Sinn Féin activity by the media and the Government. He said if he or any other party leader had been involved with the "Colombia Three" they would be probably subjected to extraordinary scrutiny.

Mr Kenny said he had deliberately chosen the eve of the seventh anniversary of the Omagh bombing to make his remarks and he called on the Taoiseach to reposition his government's attitude to Sinn Féin.

"In dealing with Sinn Féin, the Taoiseach is acting in the name of the Irish people, not simply as leader of Fianna Fáil.

"No holder of the office of Taoiseach should put themselves in the position where they can be held to ransom by the claims of an organisation that could lie for Ireland, and with a tenuous grasp not just on the truth but on sincerity."

Mr Kenny's comments were strenuously refuted by Dublin City Councillor Christy Burke of Sinn Féin.

Mr Burke remonstrated with Mr Kenny after the speech, particularly on the issue of the party's involvement with narcotics. Mr Burke challenged Mr Kenny to produce any evidence of Sinn Féin's involvement with drug dealing and said he would resign immediately from Sinn Féin if the allegations were true.

Claiming that Mr Kenny had no evidence to support the allegations, Mr Burke said Sinn Féin members were campaigners against drug trafficking.

The Parnell Summer School runs until Friday next, based in Avondale, the ancestral home of Charles Stewart Parnell.

The theme of this year's school is "Fixing the Boundaries: Ireland from the margins".

Speakers include Steven King, former political adviser to David Trimble; Paul Bew, professor of Irish politics at Queen's University Belfast; Senator Mary O'Rourke; Fergus Finlay, chief executive of Barnardos; Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Conor Lenihan and Anne Fogarty of the School of English, UCD, among others.

This morning's discussions include a contribution from Mr King on "100 years of Sinn Féin and the Ulster Unionist Party".