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19th Apr 2023

Taoiseach condemns Sinn Féin over Jonathan Dowdall links

Rory Fleming

Sinn Féin Jonathan Dowdall

Varadkar stated that Sinn Féin had “more than an inkling” about Dowdall’s background.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has called on Sinn Féin’s leader Mary Lou McDonald to give a full explanation regarding her party’s relationship with its former councillor Jonathan Dowdall.

Dowdall, who last October was sentenced to four years in prison after being found guilty of facilitating the murder of David Byrne, served as a Sinn Féin councillor on Dublin City Council until his resignation from the role in 2015.

Gerry Hutch was acquitted of the murder of David Byrne on Monday. (Credit: Rolling News)

The 45-year-old former politician resurfaced in the media this week after the evidence which he gave during the high profile Regency Hotel trial was ruled inadmissible in court.

One of the three judges in the case, Ms Justice Tara Burns, was quoted as saying “A significant question mark hangs over Jonathan Dowdall’s character and reliability” and also added that he had shown a “pattern of lying and alternate character modes”.

In the Taoiseach’s comments made before the Dáil on Tuesday, Mr. Varadkar stated that Sinn Féin had “more than an inkling” over the nefarious past of their former councillor.

He also called on the coalition government’s main opposition party to return a €1,000 donation made by Dowdall to the party prior to his conviction.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald has moved to quash claims that her party was aware of Dowdall’s criminal ties. (Credit: Getty Images)

Speaking to the importance of the Special Criminal Court in the wake of the verdict in the trial of Gerry Hutch, the Fine Gael leader called on Mary Lou McDonald to offer her party’s support to the Court’s continuation.

“I call on Sinn Féin, on the leader of Sinn Féin in particular, to affirm that they will vote for the renewal of the Special Criminal Court in June, not have an abstention, not a case of not turning up, but that they will vote for the retention of the Special Criminal Court”.

Mr. Varadkar went on to add that despite the acquittal of Hutch, the trial had succeeded in highlighting the importance of the Special Criminal Court to the Irish legal system.

“I think the fact that there was one acquittal, even though it was not the outcome that the State desired does confirm that the Special Criminal Court is a place where people get a fair trial, and the beyond reasonable doubt principle applies”.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this week, Sinn Féin’s Eoin Ó’Broin stated that the party “had no inkling that he (Dowdall) was involved in this kind of criminality”.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar belies that Sinn Féin had “more than an inkling” into Jonathan Dowdall’s background. (Credit: Rolling News)

This quote prompted a response from the Taoiseach, who said that it was “clear” from the interview that the party had “more than an inkling” regarding the background of Dowdall.

However, Mr. Varadkar did go on to add that he did not think “in any way” that Sinn Féin was responsible for John Dowdall’s crimes, before adding “I don’t believe in guilt by association”.

Mary Lou McDonald has been quoted on her relationship with Dowdall as saying “Had I known what he would become involved in, he would not have been a party member for one minute, never mind running for public office – I would not tolerate that”.

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