Sinn Féin candidates say Adams arrest not affecting campaign

Party president says no guarantee any European contenders will be elected

Sinn Féin European election candidates and party leader Gerry Adams gathered in Dublin today for the launch of the party's European election campaign. Candidates agreed that Adams's recent arrest has not had a negative effect on their campaign.

Thu, May 8, 2014, 15:38

Sinn Féin’s European election candidates have said the arrest and detention of party president Gerry Adams in connection with the abduction and murder of Jean McConville has not had a negative effect on their campaign.

Senior party figures criticised the timing of the arrest, just weeks before the local and European elections in the North and the Republic, with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness describing the issue as “political policing”.

However, Sinn Féin’s Dublin candidate for the European elections, Lynn Boylan, said the matter “hasn’t been coming up on the doors”.

“The only thing people would question is the timing, but it’s not an issue,” she said at the launch of the party’s European election campaign in Dublin.

“What people are saying is that it’s a change they want. They want a little bit of fairness from their Government and they are deeply disappointed with Fine Gael and Labour. ”

Ireland South candidate Liadh Ní Riada said the arrest was “upsetting”, but that people she met were more concerned with water charges and “the fact they can’t really afford to live”.

Matt Carthy, who is contesting the Midlands North West constituency, said his experience had been similar to Ms Ní Riada’s and that the development had highlighted how popular the peace process was in the region.

Martina Anderson MEP, who is contesting the Northern Ireland constituency, said people she spoke to had seen the arrest as “an attack on the peace process and on democracy”.

Sinn Féin is performing well in opinion polls, with all three candidates in the State seen as having a chance of taking a seat.

Ms Anderson is expected to hold the seat she took when Bairbre de Brún stepped aside two years ago for health reasons, but Mr Adams said there was “no guarantee any of our candidates will be elected”.

“These are all very tight contests and we won’t take any of that for granted,” he said.

Mr Adams said he did not know whether potential Sinn Féin voters would view his arrest as “good, bad or indifferent”.

“I do know that in terms of being about my own constituency and being with all of these candidates in recent days that the Sinn Féin organisation has been galvanised,” he said.

The party president said Sinn Féin candidates, if elected, would “stand up against austerity”, work for “a social Europe” and robustly defend the peace process, which he said other parties had failed to do.

Mr Adams said some opponents had portrayed Sinn Féin as anti-European, but he insisted this was not the case.

“I make the case all the time that Irish republicanism is essentially a European philosophy and we’re internationalists. The EU is not Europe, it’s only a part of Europe, but what we want is a social European Union and our view…is shared by millions and millions of other people throughout the European Union.”