Irish Examiner

Ahern stands by Adams's IRA membership assumption
By Harry McGee, Political Editor

TAOISEACH Bertie Ahern yesterday stood over his assumption that Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA.

The Taoiseach said he had read books in his personal library over the course of the weekend and come across references which pointed to Mr Adams himself admitting he was in the provisionals.

"I went back and looked at the reference in my own personal library. It didn't take me too long to find the references," he said.

"Maybe the best thing for me to do is to give you the references, they are his own references, and he can deny those if he wishes."

Mr Ahern said he did not "want to call anybody guilty of untruths. What I can do is that I can show him his own reference and he can say that he didn't recall that particular reference".

It is believed the Taoiseach was referring to Provos: The IRA and Sinn Féin, written by the BBC journalist Peter Taylor in 1997.

In the book, Mr Taylor referred to a 1976 column written in the Republican News by 'Brownie', a pseudonym associated with Mr Adams.

According to Mr Taylor, the Republican News column represented the one and only time Mr Adams admitted IRA membership. He then quoted the article:

"Rightly or wrongly, I am an IRA volunteer and, rightly or wrongly, I take a course of action as a means to bringing about a situation in which I believe the people of my country will prosper.

"The course I take involves the use of physical force, but only if I achieve the situation where my people can genuinely prosper can my course of action be seen, by me, to have been justified."

Mr Ahern's return to the question of Mr Adams' links with the IRA comes after the Sinn Féin president emphatically denied last week that he is, or ever was, a member of the paramilitary organisation.

Mr Adams did not refer to Mr Ahern's comments during the course of his address to his party's Árd Fheis on Saturday but it is clear that Sinn Féin is under renewed pressure from the Irish and British Governments following the abduction of a dissident republican in Belfast 10 days ago.

Unionist parties last week renewed calls to have sanctions brought on Sinn Féin.

While the governments say they are reluctant to exclude Sinn Féin from the peace process, both have stated it must ensure continuing IRA activity, which Mr Ahern said is occurring weekly, must cease.

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