SF compares Fianna Fáil to Margaret Thatcher in ‘criminalising’ 1981 hunger strikers

Unfortunate that SF continues to defend ‘murder and assassination’, says Alan Shatter

Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has accused Fianna Fáil of attempting to criminalise the 1981 hunger strikers, in the same way as former British PM Margaret Thatcher.

In an outburst during Dáil Question Time, the Donegal North East TD criticised Fianna Fáil after justice spokesman Niall Collins said people had benefited "under the terms of the Good Friday agreement for crimes they committed".

Mr Mac Lochlainn said "10 men died on hunger strike in order that they could not be labelled as criminals". Bobby Sands had been elected an MP and Kieran Doherty a TD at the time, he said.

“We did not let Maggie Thatcher criminalise them and we are not going to let Fianna Fáil criminalise them today,” he said.


'Murder and assassination'
But Minister for Justice Alan Shatter told him "it's unfortunate that the Deputy continues to defend murder and assassination".

Mr Collins had made the remarks when he asked about comments by Northern Ireland Attorney General John Larkin on the possibility of ending prosecutions of conflict-related cases occurring before the 1998 Belfast Agreement.

Mr Collins opposed Mr Larkin’s proposal and said people had benefited from the 1998 deal and “to confer a free pass by way of a general amnesty is not a runner”.

Mr Shatter said it would not be helpful for him to comment on Mr Larkin's proposals. He noted that US envoy Dr Richard Haass had been asked to consider how to deal with the past.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times