Irish Examiner

Harney in scathing attack on SF

By Harry McGee

TÁNAISTE Mary Harney yesterday accused Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris of being a member of the IRA Army Council.

In an unprecedented public denunciation of a fellow member of the Oireachtas, Ms Harney also suggested although without naming any individual that more than one of Sinn Féin's five Dáil deputies may sit on the council.

Speaking on RTÉ radio's 'This Week' programme, Ms Harney said: "Some of the Oireachtas members, I understand, sit on the army council."

When asked what members she was referring to, she replied: "I understand Deputy Ferris may well be a member of the army council, but that's a question you should put to him."

Mr Ferris yesterday trenchantly denied the allegations and described them as despicable. "I have answered that question before. I am not a member of the IRA and am not a member of the army council," he told the Irish Examiner.

The Kerry North deputy said: "This is a continuation of concerted efforts by the Progressive Democrats to make false allegations against members of Sinn Féin and try to damage (the party) electorally."

The Tánaiste's spokesperson said she was referring specifically to Mr Ferris when she said some of Sinn Féin's Oireachtas members were on the IRA Army Council. The spokesperson said Ms Harney had a solid basis for her view, but was not prepared to say how she was aware of the information.

Yesterday's outspoken remarks by the Tánaiste further escalated the already bitter stand-off between the Coalition parties and Sinn Féin in the aftermath of the Northern Bank robbery.

The Taoiseach is expected to adopt a tough stance with Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams when they meet tomorrow for the first face-to-face encounter since the December 20 robbery. In two angry responses to Mr Ahern in the past week, Mr Adams has demanded an apology for the Taoiseach's 'insulting' accusation that the SF leadership had prior knowledge of the robbery.

Ms Harney yesterday ruled out any possibility of that happening. She said she did believe the IRA denial of the robbery nor did she believe that Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness had no prior knowledge of the robbery. "I don't believe anything happens in that organisation that they are not aware of. They can't be treating us as fools. Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness are key players in the Provisional movement. Very little happens without their knowledge. Very little happens without their approval. Of that, I have no doubt."

Ms Harney later said: "I think we are getting a bit fed up quite honestly with what's coming from Sinn Féin. It's about time they made it clear that paramilitarism in all its forms is not acceptable."

Justice Minister Michael McDowell, speaking earlier on Today FM, claimed the Adjutant of the IRA in Belfast had authorised criminal acts on both sides of the Border. The Adjutant, he claimed, was on "brushing shoulders" terms with Mr Adams.

SF's Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald, speaking on the same programme, retorted that SF did not support criminality. She asked why there have been no prosecutions if Government evidence was as solid as it was claimed to be.

However, in keeping with her party's position, she refused to describe the abduction and murder of Jean McConville as a crime. "I think it was an awful, dreadful thing to happen. I would not attempt to justify it for a second. It was part of a litany of horrific things that happened over 30 years of conflict," she said.

The Government confirmed last night that the Taoiseach will also meet delegations from the SDLP and the UUP in Government buildings tomorrow.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?