Northern Ireland

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy: Sinn Féin stand by alleged former IRA leader after tax sentencing

Thomas 'Slab' Murphy Image copyright PA/Niall Carson
Image caption Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was sentenced to 18 months for tax offences

A leading member of Sinn Féin has said that the party still regards Thomas 'Slab' Murphy as a "good republican".

Murphy, who is alleged to have been one of the most powerful figures in the Provisional IRA, was sentenced to 18 months in jail for tax offences.

Before the sentencing, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adam described Thomas Murphy as a "good republican".

Newry and Armagh MLA Conor Murphy said the party stands by Mr Adams' comments.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's The Stephen Nolan Show, Mr Murphy said: "We're saying everyone has a responsibility to pay their tax.

"That's a very clear statement - we talked about his record in supporting the peace process and his influence in bringing other republicans along a journey towards a peaceful path.

"We said that everybody has a responsibility to pay their taxes and we have also said that it's also very clear that some of the commentary on this, given the record of some of the elected representatives in the south and the political parties in the south and their friends in the golden circle, rings somewhat hollow.

Image caption Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy said that the party still considers Thomas 'Slab' Murphy to be a "good republican"

Peace process role

When Conor Murphy was asked if Sinn Féin would distance itself from Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, he said: "He's not a member of Sinn Féin so far as I'm aware so he's not in the Sinn Féin circle."

He added: "What I say to you is that he played a very key role in terms of bringing republicanism along the path in terms of supporting the peace process and he deserves credit for that.

"We have said very, very clearly everyone is expected to and must pay their taxes.

"That includes all of the big companies in the south. That includes all of the people in the "golden circle" and their friends in the political circles who have cheated the country for many years."

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