Adams and McGuinness Reject Allegations
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness have this morning rejected accusations that they knew in advance of the Northern Bank Robbery.
In a joint statement they said:
“We both absolutely rejected these unfounded allegations at the time and do so again today.
“We publicly and privately challenged the Taoiseach to produce evidence to support his allegations. He didn’t.
“We told him they were groundless and untrue.
“It was and is our view that this had more to do with the electoral rivalries between Sinn Féin and Fianna Fáil.
“Subsequently Gerry met the Taoiseach and he produced no evidence to support his accusations.”
The following is the text of a letter that Gerry Adams wrote to the Taoiseach on January 11th 2005.
Bertie Ahern TD
11 January 2005
I am writing to you to refute in the strongest possible terms the allegation you made that the Sinn Fein leadership had prior knowledge of the Northern Bank robbery and to express my deep concern at this ill-founded comment and the damage that it has caused to our working relationship and to the process.
As you know I value and have acknowledged your significant contribution to the peace process. During the negotiations leading to the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 and in the years since you have played a leadership role in the collective endeavour of sustaining and pushing forward the peace process. Of course, there have been differences between us. That is the nature of a process like this. For your part the Irish government has been concerned at times over Sinn Féin’s attitude to issues. And in Sinn Fein’s view the Irish government has not always behaved as an equal partner in its dealings with the British government. But until recently both the government and the Sinn Féin leadership have not allowed these differences to upset the imperative and the primacy of the search for peace in our country.
Your decision to attack Sinn Féin and your allegation that our leadership was aware in advance of the Northern Bank robbery has put a huge question mark over this. As you know Sinn Fein’s peace strategy is based in part on Irish nationalist and republican parties working with the Irish government to advance the peace process and its promise of fundamental constitutional and political change, of an all-Ireland framework and of equality and human rights for all citizens.
You have acknowledged how Sinn Féin has worked closely with the Irish government to advance this agenda. Whatever political differences there are between the Sinn Féin leadership and the Irish government we have never misled you or acted in bad faith with you, your Ministers or government officials. Such an approach would be entirely contradictory and counter-productive. It would completely under mine our peace strategy - a strategy which Sinn Féin is totally committed to and have invested so much in.
The Sinn Féin leadership, and Martin McGuinness and I had no prior knowledge of the Northern Bank robbery. When remarks attributed to you saying you thought we had such knowledge appeared in the print media last Friday I phoned Michael Collins and asked him to convey my concerns about this matter to you. I told him I did this more in disappointment than anger. I asked for a meeting with you, not least because I believed that if you had such concerns then they should have been put directly to us. I agreed to talk to you by phone and requested that you hold back from repeating these allegations until we had a chance to talk.
Some days later, on Sunday last, you repeated your allegation. I spoke to Michael Collins today and again gave him my views on all these matters. He told me that Sunday’s interview was a pre-record and that you have not been available for meetings for a few days. The political fallout from the recrimination and accusations surrounding the bank robbery has clearly compounded the difficulties in the process following the DUP refusal to come on board in December.
In addition to this your specific accusations against the Sinn Fein leadership are enormously damaging to the working relationship between us and are undermining efforts to try and secure the comprehensive deal, which we are all working towards. I am writing to you to ask that you address my concerns as a matter of urgency. I am still waiting for a response to our request for a meeting and the phone call to discuss these matters did not happen. These matters are too serious. They need to be dealt with as a matter of urgency.
Gerry Adams MP