Adams denies ‘blaming’ RUC officers for their own murders

Sinn Féin TD says regular border crossings left men open to attack but deaths a tragedy

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has moved to distance himself from earlier remarks in which he suggested a casual approach to security by two RUC officers shot dead by the IRA in 1989 had contributed to their murders. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has moved to distance himself from earlier remarks in which he suggested a casual approach to security by two RUC officers shot dead by the IRA in 1989 had contributed to their murders. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times.

Thu, Dec 5, 2013, 19:08

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has moved to distance himself from earlier remarks in which he suggested a casual approach to security by two RUC officers shot dead by the IRA in 1989 had contributed to their murders.

“It is nonsense to suggest that I was blaming the two RUC officers for their own deaths,” Mr Adams said this afternoon.

“Everyone knows the IRA was responsible. That was never in question.”

He added the Smithwick Tribunal, which examined Garda collusion in the murders, had outlined a large number of examples where security measures around trips across the border into the Republic by RUC Chief Supt Harry Breen and Supt Bob Buchanan could have been stronger.

These included Supt Buchanan crossing the border up to 10 times per month, often in his own car which was easily identifiable. Offers of a Garda escort to and from the border had also been refused despite RUC members being warned they were a target of the IRA when crossing the border.

Mr Adams said: “Clearly, the decision to continue to travel as frequently as they did across the border, without escort, left the RUC officers open to the real possibility of attack.

“None of this distracts from the tragedy and loss of life.”

He was “very conscious” that two bereaved families were at the centre of the events examined by the tribunal, which has concluded there was Garda collusion in the murders of men on their way from a meeting with gardai at Dundalk station.

“I am concerned… not to say anything which detracts from that or which causes any further hurt. That was never my intention.

“What I said reflects what is recorded by Justice Smithwick. So those who attack me are at odds with what is contained in the Smithwick report.”

The contentious remarks were made in an interview with the Newstalk radio station after the publication on Tuesday of the final report of the tribunal into Garda collusion in the March 1989 murders.

Mr Adams said the men had taken a “laissez faire disregard” for their own safety when traveling south into the Republic for meetings with garda in Dundalk station. He added the men “seemed to think that they were immune to attack by the IRA”.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter described the remarks as “nauseating”, adding Mr Adams was appearing at meetings with hooded men around the period of the March 1989 killings in south Armagh and likely knew who the killers were.

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said Mr Adams appeared to be blaming the men for their own murders and called for the remarks to be withdrawn.

Mr Adams dismissed Mr Shatter’s remarks as “pompous” and Mr Martin’s as a “contrived outburst”.