Minister delivers "fanciful fairytale" while Taoiseach "blind to the facts" on Centre for Public Inquiry - Ó Caoláin
Speaking in the Dáil this morning during Leaders Questions the Sinn Féin leader, Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD accused the Minister for Justice of delivering "a fanciful fairytale" in relation to his allegations against the Centre for Public Inquiry and its Director, Frank Connolly.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "The Taoiseach yesterday defended the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform when he stated the Minister acted in defence of the security of the State. He would not elaborate or give reasons for that belief, or outline the threat to the security of the State. The Taoiseach asked us to wait for the Minister's subsequent statement. The Minister entered the House to deliver a fanciful fairytale.
"The Minister repeated without substantiation his claim that a named citizen, Frank Connolly, was in Colombia on a false passport. Mr. Connolly has not been charged with this offence or any other offence which I know of, let alone convicted of it. The Minister linked his allegations to the Colombia three, and he went on to claim that the purpose was to train FARC guerillas in return for large amounts of money for the IRA. He then compounded his allegations against Frank Connolly, again without a shred of evidence, by claiming he was central to this plot. I believe the plot to be a figment of the Minister's imagination."
Recalling the trial of Colombia 3 Deputy Ó Caoláin said, "that even the corrupt judicial system in Colombia could not convict the three men of the training of FARC guerillas. The case collapsed ignominiously and it (the Colombian Government) had to resort to a secret appeals process, where the defendants were not even represented, to overturn a verdict reached in open court."
Dismissing the Taoiseach and Minister McDowells claims that there was a threat to the State the Cavan/Monaghan TD asked "Was it the fantasy of the IRA using money from Colombia to subvert democracy, or was it the case that the Taoiseach viewed the threat from the Centre for Public Inquiry, with Frank Connolly as CEO, as greater to the political interest of the Minister, Deputy McDowell, the Progressive Democrats and the Government?"
Deputy Ó Caoláin also questioned where the Minister got the documentation from, pointing out that the Minister had given two different accounts in the Dáil the previous day. "In his address to the House yesterday the Minister said the document was in the possession of the Department of Foreign Affairs yet subsequently, under questioning from Deputies, he said he received it from the Garda Síochána, something he had earlier discounted," he said.
Deputy Ó Caoláin went on to compare the case of the Centre for Public Inquiry with the Stormontgate scandal and accused the Taoiseach of being "blind to the facts" if he didn't see the parallels. He said, "Does the Taoiseach not see the parallels with the "Stormontgate" situation, where those in a position of influence in a state can fabricate a case against this party, Sinn Féin, and as a result bring about the collapse of public institutions? This parallels the actions of the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, which the approval of the Taoiseach, in respect of the Centre for Public Inquiry and the position of Frank Connolly. If the Taoiseach fails to see the parallel he is absolutely blind to the facts." ENDS