SINN FÉIN HAS pledged to abolish the Special Criminal Court if in government after the election and replace it with “the normal rule of law”.
The pledge forms part of its manifesto, which was launched in Dublin today. The document commits to repealing the Offences Against the State Acts, which is the legislative underpinning of the controversial non-jury court.
Speaking today, party leader Gerry Adams said the proposal was a long-standing commitment and that the Acts would be replaced with the “normal rule of law”.
Asked what this meant, deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the government has never looked at alternatives to non-jury courts and suggested that juries could be protected by being kept in a different room to a person standing trial.
Sinn Féin’s opposition to the court has come under fresh scrutiny in the wake of the two shootings in Dublin in recent days which have been linked to gangland feuds.
The party has been vocal in its opposition to the court following the conviction of prominent republican Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy for tax evasion. Murphy, who Sinn Féin has described as a ‘good republican’, is due to be sentenced on Friday.
Last night’s shooting dead of Eddie Hutch took place in McDonald’s constituency of Dublin Central. She said:
What happened on the streets of my constituency is an absolute outrage. People are angry, people are fearful.
She said there needed to be extra resources provided to gardaí.
Adams described the shootings of recent days as being actions of “thugs and gangsters”. However, he indicated that the repeal of the Offences Against the State Acts is not a red line issue for the party.
As part of its manifesto commitments, Sinn Féin is also pledging to abolish water charges, local property tax and Universal Social Charge for those earning under €19,572, which the party claims will benefit 227,000 workers.
It is promising to increase the minimum wage to €9.65 and to introduce a living wage in the public sector. It would also restore the full dole for people under 26.
The party also wants to introduce sugar and betting taxes and a third rate of tax, 47%, on the portion of a person’s income over €100,000.
Outlining plans to to create 250,000 jobs over the next five years, Sinn Féin’s finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said his party would raise €1.7 billion through new taxes and target savings in public spending of €366 million.
Added to the available fiscal space of €8.6 billion this will mean a total investment of €10.68 billion over the next five years, according to the party.
Other pledges from Sinn Féin include electing a third of the Dáil through the party list system, appoint a senior minister with responsibility for Gaeltacht Affairs, abolishing upward only rent reviews (which requires a referendum), and to examine the introduction of a wealth tax.
Speaking at today’s launch in the Royal Irish Academy, Adams said: “Sinn Féin wants to be in government in this State. We need a mandate and we’re seeking a mandate for that.”
Adams also said that he would not take the €185,000 salary earned by the Taoiseach if he is elected to the office, saying he will take the minimum wage instead. Sinn Féin later clarified that he meant the average industrial wage.