10 March 2006

Adams: 'Slab' Murphy is innocent


10/03/2006 - 13:39:09

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today stood by alleged former IRA chief Thomas “Slab” Murphy.

The businessman, whose farm is at the centre of a police probe into a multi-million pound smuggling operation, has been wrongly demonised, he claimed.

Mr Adams declared: “Tom Murphy is not a criminal. He is a good republican.”

Murphy’s sprawling estate, straddling the Irish border, was among 15 properties searched on Thursday during police raids planned in Belfast and Dublin.

Around €300,000 in cash, 30,000 cigarettes, 8,000 litres of fuel and weapons were all seized in the offensive against organised crime.

Two men and a woman arrested during swoops in north Louth and south Armagh were questioned and released last night by gardaí.

Murphy, the one-time alleged IRA chief of staff, who is already under investigation by the Assets Recovery Agency probing house sales in the Greater Manchester area, was not detained.

But police customs officials and soldiers were all involved in a major operation on his land at Hackballscross.

Murphy, 62, insists he is a legitimate farmer with no involvement in crime.

And Mr Adams offered his total support following raids which were months in the planning.

“I read his statement after the Manchester raids and I believe what he says,” the West Belfast MP insisted.

“He is also a keen supporter of the Sinn Féin peace strategy.”

Asked if Murphy was a member of the IRA Army Council, Mr Adams replied: “If he denies being a member of the IRA then I accept that.”

Mr Adams was critical of the scale of the huge cross-border operation, but backed its objectives.

“We support the pursuit of criminal assets,” he added.

“Anybody who is involved in criminality should face the full rigours of the law.

“That includes the right to a fair trial and the right not to be vilified in the media.”

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