Political process cannot be 'hostage' to dissident gangs


SINN FÉIN:SINN FÉIN president Gerry Adams yesterday opened his party’s Assembly election campaign in Belfast with a pledge to work to further the political process in defiance of “unrepresentative groups”.

The party had considered postponement of the campaign following the murder of Constable Ronan Kerr. However, Mr Adams said the political process “cannot become a hostage” to dissident gangs.

“We stand here determined to keep making politics work. To keep defending the political institutions, and keep delivering for ordinary people and demonstrating what true republicanism is about.”

Sinn Féin is running 40 candidates across all 18 Northern Assembly constituencies, and is hoping to build on the 28 seats it won in the 2007 election.

Mr Adams, surrounded by candidates, outgoing Assembly members and TDs, said his party must stand by the Belfast Agreement and its institutions.

Mindful of the relatives of Constable Kerr, Mr Adams said Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and First Minister Peter Robinson “spoke for all of us over the weekend when they extended to the Kerr family our solidarity and support”.

Turning to Sinn Féin’s Assembly record since the last election four years ago, Mr Adams said his party had delivered on its promise of political change, progress towards Irish unity and practical help for the electorate.

“We pledged to continue to be bold and decisive, to stand up for ourselves by standing up to the [British and Irish] governments and to those opposed to change.

“We asked for your vote as an endorsement of our peace strategy. We asked for your vote to build a dynamic for change throughout Ireland.”

Mr Adams rejected claims by Ulster Unionist leader Tom Elliott that Sinn Féin had information about dissident groups which had yet to be passed to the PSNI.

“Don’t make assumptions that Sinn Féin knows information.”

In Belfast Mr Elliott said: “There are people within the mainstream Irish republican movement who know who these people are that are responsible for this and similar actions; they must also come forward and give that information to the police.”