So…Thomas (Slab) Murphy. Where do I start? Alleged (at one time) to be Chief of Staff of the IRA and described by Gerry Adams TD as a “good republican”and found guilty today of Tax Evasion.
Not sure how Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin will react but it is fairly obvious that a “good republican” can rip off the the taxpayers of the Republic of Ireland.
It cant be good for Sinn Féin. There are two ways to play this. It is “political policing”, “Slab is innocent ok”, “witch hunt” and “courts are enemies of the Peace Process”.
Or they will cast Slab adrift. And rather more quickly than they had to ditch other “good republicans”.
There is a delicate balance for them. Slab himself will know that Sinn Féin will have to distance themselves. He will have to take one for the team.
And yet there are other SF figures…the non-politicians who keep an eye on the politicians who might see a glimpse of their own future. Some people are more expendable than others.
Is it a game-changer? I dont know…but I do know that SDLP has been staging a mini-revival in South Armagh. And the Party is optimistic.
It is of course not happening in isolation. SF have not had a good year. Flip-flopping on Welfare,losing Michelle Gildernew at Westminster, Barry McElduff taking up comedy and Phil Flanagan getting de-selected (another man taking one for the team) and posing as anti-Austerity in Dublin and pro-Austerity in Belfast just doesnt deserve to work. And a Stormont that just doesnt work. And selling out victims. And SDLP suddenly looking younger and fresher. And SF losing too many head-to-heads with DUP.
Sinn Féin can of course claim that its opponents are playing Politics and SF is being “statesman-like” ….but Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour in Republic would be foolish to miss the open goal that Slab Murphy is not exactly anti-Austerity and that SF are not exactly best placed to be in control of the nation’s finances.
It is Politics.