Adams says Dail inquiry 'blatant electioneering'

 

Sinn Féin president Mr Gerry Adams said today he would be "pleased to attend" a hearing of an Oireachtas Foreign Affairs Committee when he is told the purpose of the invitation.

 Gerry Adams
Mr Gerry Adams Photograph: Reuters

He declined to attend today's sitting of the committee but offered to meet Mr O'Malley to establish why they wanted to question him.

Mr Adams was invited to attend the committee hearing after refusing to say whether he would answer the same questions before the US House of Representatives.

But in a letter, co-written by Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caolain, he told Mr O'Malley: "We have discussed this matter and we would be pleased to attend if you can assure us about the purpose of your invitation.

"As you will understand, we are concerned that your request may be an attempt to use the proceedings of this committee for blatant electioneering and to pursue a domestic party political agenda which has nothing to do with foreign affairs.

"If you don't mind us saying so, it is a little strange that you have refused to talk to Sinn Féin for all of your political career and now in the last few weeks of your political life you seek to summon us to a meeting for an unspecified purpose".

When questioned in Dublin today over whether he would attend a US Congressional Committee hearing investigating the Colombian organisation, FARC, Mr Adams said his instinct was to attend, but he was being strongly advised not to. He said no decision had yet been made on the matter.

Mr Adams has repeatedly accused the "establishment parties" of attempting to criminalise Sinn Féin in the run up to the General Election.

A request was initially made for the Sinn Féin leader to appear at the House of Representatives International Relations Committee.

They wanted to know if the IRA was linked to the Marxist guerrilla group FARC, after three Irish republicans - Mr Niall Connolly, Mr James Monaghan and Mr Martin McCauley - were arrested in Colombia for allegedly helping to train members. With no answer from Sinn Féin, Mr O'Malley suggested that the hearing go ahead in Dublin instead.

Former taoiseach Mr John Bruton, who initially wrote to Mr O'Malley suggesting he call Mr Adams before the committee, said Sinn Féin had failed the "accountability test".

Mr Bruton said: "The refusal of Sinn Féin to answer questions before the Joint Committee on Foreign Affairs shows that Sinn Féin does not apply to itself the accountability that is routinely demanded of all democratic political parties in this State.

"Are we to have double standards in this democracy and is Sinn Fein exempt from the standards of others?"

additional reporting PA