PACKED TO CAPACITY ?Cllr Michelle Mulherin (standing), pictured arriving at the meeting in Swinford, has come under fire for her comments in relation to Sinn Féin and petrol stretching. ?Pic: Michael Donnelly
‘Blatant electioneering’ – Sinn Féin hits back at Mulherin
Deputy’s fuel-laundering allegations branded ‘disgraceful’
‘BLATANT electioneering’ is how Sinn Féin Councillor, Gerry Murray, has dubbed claims by Deputy Michelle Mulherin that his party supported fuel laundering because of its links with the IRA. The Fine Gael TD made her incendiary remarks in the Dáil last week after attending a public meeting in Swinford about the increasing number of car engines destroyed due to bad fuel.
Speaking in the Dáil, Ms Mulherin said: “This is a massive problem, and it urgently needs attention. There is a crisis of consumer confidence and a crisis of public confidence, particularly in east Mayo, where there are numerous cases of petrol stretching. I attended the meeting last Monday, along with 400 people. More than half of them stood up and said they had problems with their vehicles stretching back to July. It is shocking that people can go into the forecourt, get a fill of petrol and find the engine is destroyed.”
She went on to say that although Sinn Féin are the ‘main agitators’ about Government cutbacks in rural Ireland, “not one Sinn Féin person attended a meeting of 400 people.”
She continued: “It begs the question whether Sinn Féin condones the practice. I ask if it could be intrinsically associated with the fact that the IRA has been oft associated with fuel laundering. We know of the very close ties of Sinn Féin with the IRA. I wondered with great interest on the night whether it is condoning what is going on,” Ms Mulherin continued.
However, The Mayo News can confirm that John Sheahan, Chairman of Mayo Sinn Féin, was in fact in attendance at the public meeting in Swinford. Speaking to The Mayo News yesterday (Monday), he said that Ms Mulherin had made no reference to Sinn Féin during that meeting.
“The bottom-line is that within 18 months, or less, the Government parties will face a General Election, and they are threatened by how well we did in the Local Election and are doing in polls because Sinn Féin stands outside ‘the consensus of cuts’ that are basically closing down rural Ireland,” Mr Sheahan said.
He added that himself and Cllr Rose Conway-Walsh briefed the party Árd Comhairle on the situation at a meeting in Strokestown at the weekend.
When contacted yesterday, Cllr Gerry Murray also said that Ms Mulherin’s ‘allegations were absolutely baseless’.
“Our Transport spokesman Dessie Ellis made a strong statement recently stressing that those people who are carrying out this [fuel stretching] should be named, shamed and receive mandatory prison sentences. Deputy Mulherin’s statement was disgraceful and was blatant electioneering,” Cllr Murray said.