Gerry Adams says he was in car crash in which IRA man on ‘active service’ died

Sinn Féin TD repeats he was never a member of IRA at inquest into Ballymurphy killings

Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams arrives at Laganside Court in Belfast to give evidence in the Ballymurphy inquest. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

Former Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams arrives at Laganside Court in Belfast to give evidence in the Ballymurphy inquest. Photograph: Liam McBurney/PA

 

The former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has again insisted he was never in the IRA, despite acknowledging that he was in a car crash in west Belfast in 1969 with a man who was described as being on “active service” for the paramilitary organisation at the time.

Mr Adams, who gave evidence to the Ballymurphy inquest on Wednesday, accepted that he was a passenger in a car in November 1969 in which an IRA member, Liam McParland, was killed.

Mr Adams said that he was returning from a day in Ballinamore in Co Leitrim when the fatal accident happened on the M1 close to Kennedy Way in west Belfast.

Questioned by lawyer Peter Coll, acting for the British ministry of defence, Mr Adams said he did not know at the time that Mr McParland was a local IRA commander in west Belfast.

I don’t judge him to be an academic or indeed a journalist who is objective in his attitude to the peace process, Sinn Féin or myself

Mr Coll referred to how the republican newspaper An Phoblacht in 2009 referred to the 40th anniversary of the death of Mr McParland in which it stated that he “died in a car crash on 6 November 1969 while on IRA business”. It also described him as being on “active service” at the time of his death.

Offered a lift

Mr Adams said that two other people were in the car at the time of the accident. He said he had been offered a lift back in the car. He said he did not ask the people in the vehicle “about their business”.

He said he was asleep in the car when the accident happened. He did not know what Mr McParland had been doing. “Certainly I was not on active service,” said Mr Adams.

Mr Adams also denied an allegation in writer and journalist Ed Moloney’s book, A Secret History of the IRA, that he joined the IRA in 1966 and that he took charge in Ballymurphy three years later.

I was not a member of the IRA. I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will until the day I die

He said he never read Mr Moloney’s book. “I don’t judge him to be an academic or indeed a journalist who is objective in his attitude to the peace process, Sinn Féin or myself,” he said.

Mr Coll also questioned Mr Adams about an article in The Irish Times in February last year in which former IRA member and writer Anthony McIntyre wrote about the alleged IRA history of the ex-Sinn Féin leader.

Dismissive

Again Mr Adams was dismissive of the claims. He alleged that Mr McIntyre had been writing “scurrilous, untruthful articles for some time”. He said Mr McIntyre “makes no secret of his detestation of the development of the peace process and the embracing of that by the majority of republicans”.

He said it was “important that the inquest know the calibre of the authors”.

When Mr Adams asked Mr Coll why he was pursuing this line of questioning when the inquest was about the people killed in Ballymurphy, there was applause from the gallery of the courtroom.

Mr Adams repeated he was never in the IRA. “I was not a member of the IRA. I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will until the day I die,” he told the inquest.

He described the IRA as an “organisation of volunteers of men and women who acted as they saw themselves patriotically and duty-bound to do”.

Mr Adams added that he “deeply regretted there was a war” and knew victims of the IRA would not “like what I am saying”.