Letter published today (Wednesday) in the Irish Independent under the heading "The Minister's accusations"
Sir, On radio today, Justice Minister Michael McDowell defended his action, during last Wednesday's Leader's debate, in challenging Gerry Adams with accusations regarding the Colombia Three and FARC.
This accusation has potentially serious ramifications for all of us, not just Sinn Fein. It raises fundamental questions about the underlying principles of justice and democratic accountability.
Let's suppose that Michael McDowell genuinely believes his latest red scare election tactic and decides that the alternative coalition must be stopped in the national interest. As Minister for Justice he has access to Garda, Revenue and Welfare files on his political opponents and their families and could presumably leak a variety of stories to journalists, at national and local level, which would damage those opponents.
Is this acceptable, based on Mr McDowell's judgement of the national interest?
He has, at very least, created the precedent for future office holders to abuse their sources of information for political purposes. This is a highly dangerous state of affairs and one which should not be tolerated in a democracy. Yours etc.
Footnote: Also published by the Irish Examiner on election day itself. I'm disappointed that the Irish Times hasn't chosen to publish this letter.
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