Kenny and Adams lock horns over IRA history

Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 00:00

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams lauded the peace process and said he had never distanced himself from the IRA.

“I thank God every day that we now have a peace process and that it is working,’’ he added. “I have never distanced myself from the men and women volunteers of the IRA and do not do so today because it would be wrong.’’

Mr Adams said “things were done that I regret very much’’, adding that “governments were also guilty of that behaviour, including successive Irish governments’’.

He said he agreed with Taoiseach Enda Kenny that there could be no hierarchy of victimhood. “Every family, regardless of the perpetrator of their bereavement or injury, needs to be assisted, which will not be easy,’’ he added.

“There was never a truth and reconciliation process in this State . . . never into the events of the Tan war or the dreadful Civil War.’’

Mr Adams said he still met families who anguished and agonised over the fact that loved ones were tied to landmines and taken out on lonely roads.

Mr Kenny said that when people looked at Sinn Féin’s political impact in Northern Ireland, they would associate the IRA with being the military wing of a political party.

Furthermore, they would have associated Mr Adams with being a member. “I do not know whether that is true, but the deputy does,’’ Mr Kenny said.

“From a truth and reconciliation point of view, were he called before such a body, what would he say?”

Mr Adams emphasised that he had said he would co-operate and do his best to influence republicans to co-operate with a genuine independent process of truth recovery.

“I come from a poor, working class community, which was denied any rights whatsoever and let there be no equivocation about that,’’ he said. “That is not said in justification for what happened since because those responsible have to take responsibility for their actions.”

Green conservative State

Mr Adams said “an Orange Tory conservative state was established in the North and a Green conservative State was established in the South’’.

He added: “The elites who used to run the place were replaced by a native elite and the great heroes of 1916 and their Proclamation came to nothing, and it is not visible anywhere on this island except in the hearts, genius, intellects and will of our people.’’

Mr Kenny said Mr Adams had been asked on many occasions over 30 years if he was a member of the IRA and he had never said “yes”.