Gilmore and Haass to speak about ‘window’ for NI talks
Adams warned by PSNI of death threat
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore who said he would speaking to Dr Richard Haass today about a possible resumption in the Northern Ireland talks in which the US diplomat could have a role. Photograph: Collins
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore is due to talk to Dr Richard Haass today as the political fallout from the arrest and detention of Gerry Adams for five days brings renewed focus on dealing with legacy issues facing Northern Ireland.
Mr Gilmore said while the talks chaired by Dr Haass had broken down without agreement on New Year’s Eve, the process had not failed.
The arrest of Mr Adams on Wednesday triggered a bitter political row with Sinn Féin accusing an “old cabal” within the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) of orchestrating the detention with the aim of damaging the party ahead of the European and local government elections.
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This was angrily rejected by political rivals, whose fury intensified when Sinn Féin indicated that its support for the police - a critical plank in the peace process - would be “reviewed” if Mr Adams was charged.
Sinn Féin reported this evening that the PSNI has warned Gerry Adams and senior republican Bobby Storey of a threat to their lives. The party’s justice spokesman Raymond McCartney said that police called to the west Belfast homes of Mr Adams and Mr Storey “to make them aware of death threats from criminal elements”.
Earlier, the Tánaiste said there is a window of time between the end of the elections and the start of the marching season in which progress could be made and said “there may well be a role for him [Dr Haass]again”.
Mr Gilmore added he had spoken to Britain’s deputy prime minister Nick Clegg about the case and that Taoiseach Enda Kenny had spoken with prime minister David Cameron last night.
The Tánaiste said he believed there was time between the elections in May and the marching season in July to make progress on some issues.
The Haass talks process - which examined the disputes on flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles - broke down on New Year’s Eve without a consensus being reached.
The Sinn Féin president spent almost 96 hours in custody from Wednesday evening in police custody. Mr Adams was released from Antrim police station yesterday evening and the PSNI said he was “released pending a report” to the North’s Public Prosecution Service.
Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said this morning she was pleased Sinn Féin had not followed through on its threat to withdraw support for the PSNI over the arrest of Mr Adams because such a move would have been “very destabilising” for Northern Ireland.
Ms Villiers said she was told of the impending arrest of Mr Adams on Monday, two days prior to his detention but said she not discuss the matter with any member of the Irish Government until after the arrest became public.
She rejected a suggestion that the PSNI had succumbed to “bully boy” tactics from Sinn Féin and said the police and the public prosecution service would make a decision on the next steps in the case based on “the evidence”.