SF 'will not be used as conduit'

(William Graham, Irish News)

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said he will never again allow his party to be used by the Irish and British governments as "a conduit" to the IRA.

Mr Adams said that this was one of the political lessons he had learned recently.

He said that when Sinn Féin goes in to talk to a British or Irish government, it would say "we don't represent the IRA".

The West Belfast MP said: "I will ensure that they will never have the opportunity to use or abuse us as a conduit ever again in the future."

At the same time, Mr Adams emphasised at a Stormont press conference that Sinn Féin was on the peace trail.

He said the party would use its influence to prevent any return back to conflict.

Earlier, Mr Adams had quoted part of an Irish News interview with PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde published yesterday.

He said he had asked the Irish government to act on its allegations that he and Martin McGuinness had prior knowledge of the Northern Bank robbery.

"They have failed to do this. The taoiseach has studiously avoided answering the question I put to him," he said.

"The fact is that he has made a claim which he cannot corroborate or substantiate.

"In the Irish News interview the PSNI Chief Constable was asked if the Sinn Féin leadership knew about the Northern bank robbery. His reply was that he had 'no idea'.

"So, the taoiseach should stop making these malicious and untrue allegations."

Mr Adams warned that ongoing damage was being done to the peace process.

Sinn Féin chief negotiator Mr McGuinness also said the crisis was particularly damaging.

"If there is to be any resolution then people are going to have to sit down and work out a way forward," he said.

"This is very difficult to do against a backdrop of what are preposterous and unfounded allegations from the taoiseach.

"At this stage it is only from the taoiseach – the allegation that Gerry Adams and I participated in the Northern Bank robbery."

Mr McGuinness claimed what was happening was "pure electoralism gone mad".

"It is electoralism being put over and above the need for a successful peace process. Why is that?" he said.

"The agenda is that the taoiseach in particular sees the profile of Gerry Adams as too high for his liking. Other political leaders in the south are also affected by this.

"It absolutely galls them that Gerry Adams is right up there in terms of satisfaction with the voters of the south.

"They have decided to burst his bubble and have decided to try and bring the Sinn Féin [electoral] balloon down and are prepared to resort to every dirty trick in the book.

"That is what is happening at this time because there is no truth whatsoever in the allegation that the taoiseach has made.

"I think Hugh Orde's interview in the Irish News [yesterday] – for anybody who is interested – is most revealing."

February 14, 2005

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