Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Taoiseach has to explain his accusations

23 January, 2005


Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP writing in the Village Magazine this weekend said "By far the most damaging aspect of all of this has been the remarks of the Taoiseach that the Sinn Fein leadership had prior knowledge of the Northern Bank robbery. His accusation is completely without foundation. It is wrong. When the Taoiseach sits down with us this week he will have to explain his comments."

Mr. Adams said:

"At the beginning of this phase the governments spoke to us of the need to establish whether the DUP wanted to do a deal; whether they wanted 'cover', 'a fig leaf' to facilitate their involvement. We put it to them and we received a commitment from them, that if it became clear the DUP wasn't up for a deal, if they didn't want 'cover' or a 'fig leaf', as the governments hoped they would, then the governments would proceed with all those aspects of the Agreement that they were capable of implementing.

"The detail of all of this cannot be revealed at this time but when it is people of goodwill will be in no doubt as to the good faith engagement by our leadership.

"I was already firmly of the view that the issue of IRA arms and alleged activities, by that organization, was being used as an excuse to prevent progress. So Martin McGuinness and I and others were up for creating the conditions in which these issues could be resolved. There was also a very clear need to get the DUP to accept the changed political landscape, which the Good Friday Agreement involves and there was the question of Sinn Fein reviewing our attitude to the PSNI, if a proper context was agreed.

"These were big challenges for us. We also had to make a sustained effort to keep both governments tied to the Good Friday Agreement given their past breaches of that Agreement.

"When the effort to get a comprehensive agreement failed Sinn Féin and the British government proceeded to explore how the governments could deliver on the commitment they made to us. This continued in the week leading up to Christmas. The Irish government was less than enthusiastic. No one should be in any doubt of the depth of the difficulties in the process at that time.

"It was in the course of this work that the Northern Bank was robbed. Then came the accusation, subsequently denied by the IRA, that it was involved. This triggered a relentless campaign of vilification against Sinn Fein.

"By far the most damaging aspect of this has been the remarks of the Taoiseach that the Sinn Fein leadership had prior knowledge of this robbery. In all my dealings with the Irish government before Bertie Ahern's time and during his terms as Taoiseach we have dealt with him in a forthright and honest way. His accusation is completely without foundation. It is wrong.

Of course there are differences between us and the Irish government. These started to show in recent times but the government's attitude to Sinn Fein began to change almost two years ago when our party first began to make significant electoral gains. There was a palpable resentment that there was goodwill towards Sinn Fein particularly at a time when the revelations of corruption were affecting the standing of the establishment parties.

"Thus far I have refused to characterise the Taoiseach's remarks. But he has accused Martin McGuinness and I of being involved in a bank robbery. We find that highly offensive. Also the logic of his remark is that the effort we made before Christmas was not serious.

"This entire process is bigger than party politics. It is bigger than Gerry Adams or Bertie Ahern. It can only be brought to a successful conclusion through dialogue, inclusivity and dealing with people on the basis of equality. When the Taoiseach sits down with us this week he will have to explain his comments."ENDS

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