The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Dec 16th Dail questions

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: To return to the questions posed by Deputy Kenny, is it not the case that the Taoiseach's response to the Deputy's remarks only fuels the remarks of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Deputy McDowell, in casting a disgraceful slur on the party I and other colleagues in this House are proud to represent? Is it not the case that a veil is being used of so-called security briefings? Rather than stating he does not have such evidence, he should affirm quite categorically that there is no such evidence, because there is no such linkage. Sinn Féin has not just met the statutory requirements to furnish annual accounts, it has voluntarily submitted these accounts to the Revenue Commissioners. It submits to the requirements of the Standards in Public Office Commission and to the electoral office in the Six Counties. Will the Taoiseach agree that Sinn Féin is one of the most scrutinised parties in the country? Its accounts are not just scrutinised on this side of the Border, but north of the Border and in regard to the party's ongoing work in the United States.

Is it not the case that there is absolutely no evidence and that the remarks of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform are a scurrilous slight on this party? Is the Taoiseach aware of the great hurt and vexation caused to elected voices and supporters of this party throughout the island of Ireland and abroad? Is he aware that if he is not prepared to deny categorically the charges so abusively presented to the media by the president of the Progressive Democrats in his role as Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, he is aligning himself with these views and that there is a requirement on him to set the record straight?

The Taoiseach: I do not think Deputy Ó Caoláin should get too upset. I have spent most of my nine years as leader of my party defending it in regard to investigations and examinations into all kinds of issues. I have had to answer to tribunals and facilitate all kinds of investigations. It comes with the territory in a democratic society. I have had to take on the issues and deal with them.

I have said to Deputy Kenny that I have no information on the issue. Sinn Féin continues to make clear how it is funded. I have made it absolutely clear that I have no other information. However, I am not the Garda Commissioner, the CAB or the special investigation unit. What I am merely saying is that I am aware the Garda has been investigating certain activities by people who may have connections with the Provisional IRA. I also said there have been allegations from time to time that Provisional IRA members have been involved in what might be called organised crime, for example, robberies and hijackings of goods. If I say anything else, Deputies will say I am misleading the House. I will not go into the details. In fact, I will not say anything, because Deputies could deem anything I say to be unfair.

As Deputy Kenny acknowledged, I cannot stand up in the House and give security briefings. Neither can I say I have not been briefed. If the Deputy tells me his party has complied with the Standards in Public Office Commission and the electoral Act, I will believe him, even though when he raises issues in the House he says he does not believe what I or my party say. I will pay Deputy Ó Caoláin the courtesy of believing him.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: Given its seriousness, the issue requires a focus. I do not agree with the Taoiseach. It does not come with the territory. I roundly reject the sourcing of funding through criminal activity for Sinn Féin or any other political party. This is not acceptable under any circumstances. We are talking about funding of Sinn Féin which has met every requirement and demand of it. I will personally furnish the Taoiseach with a copy of our accounts so that he
will be well aware of the facts in regard to this party's activities.

We are in competition with Fianna Fáil and all the other political parties. It is no coincidence that following Sinn Féin's becoming the largest nationalist voice north of the Border this attack has been launched on the integrity of our party. It is not only an attack on the name "Sinn Féin", it is an attack on each individual member of the party and the supporters throughout the country.

Does the Taoiseach not recognise that involved in all of this is the very dangerous situation that it represents an undermining of confidence in terms of both the peace process and the political process, with Sinn Féin seeking at this point to move forward from the electoral result north of the Border? What has been said is grist to the mill of the Democratic Unionist Party. Comments made previously in this House were grist to their mill and are now repeated. It will be used again to further stall and thwart the normalisation of politics on this island.

An Ceann Comhairle: As I previously pointed to the Deputy, we cannot have a separate Standing Order for the Deputy.

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: This is how serious the matter is. It ill behoves the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the Taoiseach or anyone else to think or act as they have done.

An Ceann Comhairle: Deputy Ó Caoláin must resume his seat. There cannot be a separate Standing Order for the Deputy.

The Taoiseach: Deputy Ó Caoláin is protesting his innocence, but I have not said anything about his guilt so I am not obliged to answer. I merely said that accusations about how one obtains one's funding come with the territory in democratic political life. In September I saw a programme about funding on RTE, the national television station, which would make one think members of my party were a crowd of criminals. I did not get excited, nor did any of my colleagues, because this is part of the territory. One must defend oneself in these positions. If Deputy Ó Caoláin has complied with requirements, such as those of the Public Offices Commission, it would be as relevant for him to send me his accounts as it would be for me to send him my accounts.


Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin: I would like to-----

An Ceann Comhairle: Allow the Taoiseach to continue without interruption.

The Taoiseach: If Deputy Ó Caoláin's accounts are in order, they are in order. I am not an auditor for his accounts.

Mr. G. Mitchell: They are audited by P. O'Neill and company.

The Taoiseach: Deputy Ó Caoláin says that none of these-----

An Ceann Comhairle: The Taoiseach's time is concluded.

The Taoiseach: I am sorry, a Cheann Comhairle.

Mr. Hayes: He is going well.

The Taoiseach: I have only said what I have said. I cannot withdraw anything for Deputy Ó Caoláin because I have said nothing other than that I believe him.

Mr. J. Higgins: The Taoiseach is being frank for a change.

The Taoiseach: I am just stating my position. If Deputy Ó Caoláin wants to raise any question I will try to answer him but senior people from his party have told me that none of this applies to them and I accept that. The Garda Commissioner, of whom I must also take account, said that certain activities of people who may have connections with the Provisional IRA were being investigated. That is all I am saying.

Mr. Ring: The Taoiseach is keeping all sides happy.

Mr. Durkan: He is neither on one side nor the other - he is in the middle.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

4 January 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


Anthony McIntyre


New Years Statement 2004

Óglaigh na hÉireann


New Year Greetings
Jimmy Sands


In Memorium
Brian Mór


Is This The Real IRA?
Liam O Ruairc


Dec. 16th Dail Questions



Provos/SDLP/Dublin Securing Partition
Liam O Comain


The Patriot Game
Kathleen O Halloran


Wiping Out the Opposition
Aine Fox


They Will Never Get Us All
Sean Matthews


The Letters Page has been updated.


17 December 2003


An Autopsy on the Provos
Sandy Boyer


The PSNI Threat

Anthony McIntyre


Seize the Opportunity, Seize the Moment
Liam O Ruairc


Happy Xmas from Little England
Eamon Sweeney


Dublin Cover-up Was Government Policy
Father Sean Mc Manus


Warm (Flat) Earth
Michael Youlton




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