Collins defends drug dealer letter

Niall Collins

Fianna Fáil's Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins has defended a letter he wrote on behalf of a convicted drug dealer.

Collins' letter was cited by the man's defence team at a sentencing hearing in Limerick to back up his "exceptional" family circumstances.

In a statement, the deputy has said he fully understands and respects the absolute independence of any sentencing judge and to suggest anything otherwise is a source of genuine regret.

The Taoiseach Enda Kenny has disagreed, calling it a "direct intervention" in the administration of justice.

Full statement from Deputy Niall Collins TD:

“There has been considerable and understandable media comment about my decision to write a letter to the court considering the case of an individual convicted of an offence in Limerick. While I would have preferred to avoid comment until the conclusion of this case, the level of public interest prevents this.

“I fully understand and respect the absolute independence of any sentencing judge in making their decision based on the facts put before them during any trial. If my actions suggest anything other than total respect for judicial independence that is a source of genuine regret”.

“To be very clear I wrote the letter outlining the exceptional circumstances of this family as the four children lost their mother through suicide earlier this year and I truly believed that the Judge should be made aware of these tragic circumstances so that they could be taken into consideration when sentencing. My decision was based solely on compassion and concern for the four children. Sentencing in this case has been deferred until October and I do not intend to speak about it any further.”

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