By Michelle Devane, PA
Ex-Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall has expressed regret over his “unfair” comments about party leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Dowdall told the Special Criminal Court that remarks he made earlier in the trial were being used to “drag down” Sinn Féin.
He also said the provisional IRA were not involved in the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel.
Dowdall was giving evidence for a third day in the trial of Gerry “The Monk” Hutch at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.
Hutch is on trial over the murder of Mr Byrne, who was shot dead at the Regency Hotel in February 2016, in one of the first deadly attacks of the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud.
Hutch, from the Paddocks, Clontarf, has denied the charge of murder.
Last month, the court heard a claim by Dowdall during a conversation with Hutch that Ms McDonald had used the Hutch family for money and votes.
Dowdall was secretly recorded making the claims and criticising Ms McDonald for not attending the funeral of the brother of murder accused Hutch.
Ms McDonald has rejected the allegations.
On Wednesday, during cross-examination, Dowdall said: “I’m not involved in Sinn Féin at any level…I made a comment about Mary Lou [McDonald] which was very unfair on a personal level.
“What I done is being used to drag down a political party. I think that’s very unfair.
“Everybody knows Sinn Féin are the most hated.”
He added that reports in some of the newspapers had been “very unfair”.
Dowdall also told the court that the provisional IRA were not involved in the shooting at the Regency hotel.
“The provos don’t have anything to do with this,” he said.
“They’re gone. As far as I’m concerned they’ve nothing got to do with this. Either did the dissident Republicans.”
During cross-examination by Brendan Grehan, senior counsel for Hutch, questioned Dowdall over his relationship with former IRA men, in particular convicted Garda killer Pearse McAuley.
Dowdall told the court he was “not particularly good friends” with McAuley, but he knows him and had visited him in prison “two or three times”.
Mr Grehan proceeded to outline details of prison records which showed that Dowdall had visited McAuley 14 times in prison between February 2015 and January 2016.
“It’s not a crime to visit people in court, ” Mr Grehan said.
“What is a crime: It’s a crime to lie on oath.”
Asked about McAuley’s attack on his wife Sinn Féin TD Pauline Tully, Dowdall said: “It was a tragic offence for everyone concerned.”
He added that what McAuley was in prison for was “horrendous” but “I couldn’t judge him”.
He said he had met McAuley through Sinn Féin.
When asked what he discussed with McAuley during the visits to prison Dowdall said he had discussed some of the issues the Hutches were having with the Kinahans in January 2016.
The trial continues.