Unionists call for cross-border investigation into allegations against Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald

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Unionists have called for a cross-border police investigation into allegations made about Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald during a high-profile gangland trial in Dublin.

erry ‘The Monk’ Hutch (59), of The Paddocks, Clontarf, Dublin, is currently charged with the murder of a man who was shot dead during the Regency Hotel attack in February 2016.

Paul Murphy (61) of Cherry Avenue, Swords, along with Jason Bonney (51) of Drumnigh Wood, Portmarnock, who are also charged, deny all the charges against them.

Earlier Ourselves Councilor Jonathan Dowdall, who has since turned state’s evidence, was secretly recorded claiming party leader Mary Lou McDonald was using the Hutch family for money and votes.

“But you were good enough Gerard to use for votes, you were good enough to use for money,” he was heard telling Hutch in footage played to the special non-jury criminal court in Dublin.

Dowdall also criticized Ms McDonald for not going to the funeral of the murdered brother of the accused and “branding everyone as scumbags”.

He is also heard condemning the Sinn Fein leader for her comments about Pearse McAuley, a convicted garda killer and former IRA member who was jailed in 2015 for stabbing his then wife, Sinn Fein member Pauline Tully, 13 times.

Dowdall said Ms McDonald had “no reason to get up and talk Pearse out” and say his sentence was not long enough.

Ms McDonald previously said that had she known about former Sinn Fein councilor Dowdall’s involvement in crime, he would not have been “closer” to the party, adding that she was “deeply shocked” to learn of his role in gang crime.

Dowdall had also been charged with murder, but before the trial started he instead admitted facilitating Mr Byrne’s killing by booking a hotel room for the perpetrators.

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Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie“This is such a serious allegation that it needs to be investigated by both the Garda and the PSNI, even if the source is dubious or discredited. I will be writing to both to ask if they will investigate these allegations.”

DUP MLA Emma Little Pengelly also said Mary Lou McDonald must answer about the allegations.

Dowdall was driving Hutch to Northern Ireland for an alleged meeting with republicans in the wake of the shooting at the Regency Hotel when their conversation was secretly recorded by a Garda audio device.

The Lagan Valley MLA said: “These claims were made by a former Sinn Fein councillor, someone we now know made a personal donation to Mary Lou McDonald. The Sinn Fein president needs to explain why a conversation that she uses a criminal gang for money and votes would ever even arise.

“This was a conversation between two individuals who were unaware that they were being recorded or that the comments would ever become public. However, they deserve to be investigated by all appropriate authorities and to be fully addressed by Mary Lou McDonald.

“Mary Lou McDonald and other Sinn Fein representatives have often criticized so-called ‘cronyism’ within the Irish political system. People now want clarity on Jonathan Dowdall’s claim about Sinn Fein’s own alleged cronyism with gangsters.

“Everyone is aware of Sinn Fein’s camaraderie with IRA criminals over many decades. However, it was not just a loose association but represented a criminal gang that oversaw an entire political party.

“However, these latest allegations bring a new focus on Sinn Fein, and particularly given recent attempts to distinguish between gangland criminals and the IRA. People in the Republic and in Northern Ireland are right to ask whether gangland money is being used to influence politics, ” she added.

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