Alleged IRA chief Thomas Murphy faces sentencing for tax evasion

File photo dated 17/12/15 of alleged former IRA leader Thomas 'Slab' Murphy
File photo dated 17/12/15 of alleged former IRA leader Thomas 'Slab' Murphy

Alleged former IRA leader Thomas “Slab” Murphy will be sentenced today for tax evasion.

The 66-year-old bachelor farmer, who denied the charges, owes the Irish exchequer almost 190,000 euro (£147,000) for tax dodging from 1996-2004.

Murphy, from Ballybinaby, Hackballscross, Co Louth, on the border with Northern Ireland, could face five years in jail or fines of up to 100,000 euro (£77,800) for the offences.

He is being sentenced at the high security Special Criminal Court in Dublin as Ireland votes in a general election.

The decision of the three-judge non-jury court will demand more answers from Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams over his description of Murphy as a “good republican”.

The farmer, who has no previous convictions and works as a yardsman for a business in Crossmaglen, south Armagh, was found guilty last December of nine counts of tax fraud.

He did not give evidence during the 32-day trial, held in a court which normally hears terrorism and organised crime trials.

In 1998, Murphy lost a £1 million libel action against the Sunday Times which described him as a senior IRA figure.

In one of only two occasions when he has spoken publicly, he claimed he had to sell a home in order to pay for some of the cost of the failed lawsuit.

Murphy’s trial heard his total tax bill for the nine years was 38,519.56 euro (about £30,000), and interest built up on those unpaid bills was 151,445.10 euro (about £117,000), taking the final amount owed to 189,964.66 euro.

He was charged with five counts under the Republic’s Taxes Consolidation Act and four under the Finance Act that he knowingly and wilfully failed to make tax returns and did so without reasonable excuses.

The court found he did not furnish Ireland’s Revenue authorities with a return of income, profits or gains or the sources of them over the period but received 100,000 euro (£73,000) in farm grants and paid out 300,000 euro (£220,000) to rent land.