THE TWITTER ACCOUNT belonging to the government’s chief whip Paul Kehoe has been used to launch a stinging attack on Sinn Féin presidential candidate Martin McGuinness.
The tweets appeared on the @GovChiefWhip account of Paul Kehoe, a Wexford Fine Gael TD who is also a Minister of State in the Department of Defence, as McGuinness was being interviewed alongside Fine Gael Áras hopeful Gay Mitchell. The first read: “I wouldn`t trust martin MC Guinness to take my dog for a walk.”
Shortly afterwards, as Mitchell accused McGuinness of lying to the electorate about his salary, a second tweet appeared to link McGuinness to the 2004 Northern Bank robbery.
The armed seizure of £26.5million sterling from the Northern Bank headquarters in Belfast is one of the largest bank robberies in UK and Irish history. Both the Irish and British governments, along with the PSNI, accused the Provisional IRA of being responsible. However, the Provisional IRA and Sinn Féin have denied it was involved.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has previously said he believed Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness had prior knowledge of the robbery.
Fine Gael could not be contacted for comment at the time of writing, and it was not clear whether Kehoe had written the tweets himself.
Meanwhile, Gay Mitchell also launched an attack on McGuinness as the two were interviewed on Newstalk’s Eamon Dunphy Show. Mitchell accused McGuinness of lying to the electorate about his IRA membership, and claims that he lives on the average industrial wage, saying:
I don’t know this man. This man says he’s not a member of the IRA – that’s not true [...] He says he lives on the average industrial wage – that’s not true, he earns around €200,000 a year. Publish your P60, Martin.
Responding to Mitchell’s allegations and the tweet from Paul Kehoe’s account, Sinn Féin TD Padraig McLaughlin told TheJournal.ie that Fine Gael were employing “negative, dirty tricks politics” to distract from the real issues. He said:
It’s clear that Fine Gael headquarter have chosen to take the campaign in the direction of negative, dirty tricks politics this weekend. But the Irish people are engaging in an unprecedented economic crisis. They are looking for hope, and that type of politics is the last thing we need. I feel Fine Gael have dragged us into the muck.
Sinn Féin have also rejected a further attack from environment minister Phil Hogan, who said that electing McGuinness would cause foreign investors to see “a terrorist in the Park”. Hogan also told the Sunday Independent that having McGuinness as president would “leave us looking like a banana republic”.
Sinn Féin TD Mary Lou McDonald said McGuinness had an exemplary record of creating jobs in the North by attracting foreign investment.
Before Phil Hogan comes out with nonsense that the election of Martin McGuinness as president would impact negatively in the boardrooms in the United States he should possibly have checked the job creation record that Martin has had as deputy First Minister over the course of the last four years.
She added: “Unlike Phil Hogan, Martin McGuinness has access to the very highest boardroom levels in the United States.”