Limerick councillors round on Sinn Fein as community motion falls

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

Cllr Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Fein's party leader in Limerick, lodged a notice of motion with the council to call on the government to change the Proceeds of Crime Act
A SINN Fein motion to have money seized by CAB pumped back into communities was defeated as rival councillors rounded on the party over its alleged links to the IRA.

A SINN Fein motion to have money seized by CAB pumped back into communities was defeated as rival councillors rounded on the party over its alleged links to the IRA.

Cllr Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Fein’s party leader in Limerick, lodged a notice of motion that the metropolitan district of the council call on the government to change the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure monies and assets seized by the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) go back to local communities.

But rival councillors, mainly from Fianna Fail, accused Sinn Fein of “hypocrisy”, pointing out CAB was set up in the wake of the murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in Adare by members of the Provisional IRA. Cllr Quinlivan said after the meeting: “Sinn Fein killed nobody. They might be talking about the IRA, which I can’t speak for. But to say Sinn Fein killed people is not really on, they killed nobody.”

Cllr Sean Lynch, a former detective garda who served alongside Mr McCabe said: “I was taken aback by this motion. Sinn Fein should have done their homework on this.

“Limerick has not had any assets seized in a long, long time, so I don’t know where he is coming from with that motion. It is hypocrisy on the part of Sinn Fein.”

Referring to an earlier debate in the meeting, he indicated Sinn Fein had caused problems for people in Ballinacurra Weston.

This prompted Cllr Quinlivan to shout: “That is simply not true”, and urged him to retract the statement.

Cllr Seighin O Ceallaigh added: “Retract it, or provide some evidence to support it.”

But the City West councillor refused to do so.

Cllr James Collins, Fianna Fail, said: “It is deliberately political and opportunist for Sinn Fein to try and portray themselves as the party of law and order.

“An Garda Siochana and CAB should be better equipped to investigate the proceeds of crime, including the proceeds of serious Republican-driven crime, including bank robberies, fuel laundering, racketeering, prostitution, extortion, drug dealing, cross-border smuggling, illegal tobacco sales and tiger kidnappings.

“These self-declared champions of the community, through their actions and those of their associates have caused irreparable damage within many communities, and this is what CAB has been tasked with trying to repair,” he concluded.

His party colleague Jerry O’Dea added: “I would ask our Sinn Fein councillors if their organisation intends to engage with and assist An Garda Siochana, as the legitimate organisation responsible for law and order in this state, regarding if and how many individuals were moved from Northern Ireland into the South as a result of IRA investigations into alleged sex abuse and where these individuals are located.”

Cllrs Collins and O’Dea finished their speeches, despite regular attempts by Mayor Michael Sheahan to rule them out of order.

Cllr Frankie Daly, Labour, described the motion as “populist and bluff”.

Anti-Austerity alliance councillor Cian Prendiville urged councillors to judge the motion based on what was in front of them, and not political history.

Cllr Kieran O’Hanlon said the motion was “impractical”, and suggested an amendment that any money seized should be put back into CAB to enhance its work. This was carried by a majority of councillors.

Cllr Quinlivan, after the meeting, said he was “disappointed” the motion was “politicised”.

On the late Mr McCabe, he said: “I think they said Sinn Fein did not condemn the killing of Jerry McCabe at the time. I wasn’t a public representative at the time. But I have been on public record on a number of occasions condemning that killing. I will do it again: it should not have happened.”