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The IRA is gone… there is only one way for our society to go and that is forward

PX*1937764Gerry Adams made the following statement after being released after four nights in police custody.

I came voluntarily from the Dáil in Dublin to Antrim PSNI barracks last Wednesday having contacted the PSNI two months ago through my solicitor Seamus Collins, to tell them that I was available to meet them following yet another spate of media speculation, part of a sustained malicious, untruthful and sinister campaign alleging involvement by me in the killing of Mrs Jean McConville.

When the PSNI contacted my solicitor on Monday afternoon I was concerned about the timing, given that Sinn Féin is involved in very important EU and local government elections across the island of Ireland. But I quickly made arrangements to come here and I left Leinster House – the Oireachtas – and Leaders Questions with the Taoiseach to do so.

I want to thank my solicitor Mr. Seamus Collins for his diligence and professional approach and his colleague Eugene McKenna. I also want to thank everyone who has sent goodwill messages to Colette and our family and to my comrades in Sinn Féin for their solidarity.

I am conscious that there is another family at the heart of this. That is the family of Mrs Jean McConville.

Let me be very clear. I am innocent of any involvement in any conspiracy to abduct, kill and bury Mrs McConville. I have worked hard with others to have this injustice redressed and for the return of the bodies of others killed and secretly buried by the IRA and I will continue to do so.

The Commission set up by the two governments at the request of myself, and the late Fr Alex Reid, has said that it is receiving 100% support from republicans. Martin McGuinness and I were actually to meet the Commission around this time as part of this work.

I am mindful also that tomorrow is the anniversary of the death on hunger strike of H Block martyr Bobby Sands MP. Sitting in my cell here in recent days I reflected on that and on the dreadful summer of 1981.

Of course this is not 1981 or 1972. The people of this island – with a few exceptions, have carved out a new dispensation. So while the past needs to be dealt with – and Sinn Féin is up for doing this – including the issue of victims and their families, there can be no going back.

Peace needs to be built with determination and a consistent focus. That remains my intention and is Sinn Féin’s constant endeavour. I bear no animosity to anyone. I have no wish to be treated differently from anyone else. I am an activist – this is my life and I am philosophical and I understand that I have detractors and opponents. I especially understand that there are sinister elements, who are against the changes Sinn Féin and others are committed to achieving.

I did not come here expecting special treatment but it is crucial that everyone is treated fairly. I seek fair treatment not only for myself but because it is crucially important that everyone knows that these are changed times, that they can and will be treated fairly and that we can all have hope and confidence in the new developing dispensation, including the police service. To send any other signal is to encourage the bigots.

So I make the case that those who authorised my arrest and detention could have done it differently. They had discretion. They did not have to use pernicious coercive legislation to deal with a legacy issue – even one as serious as this, which I was voluntarily prepared to deal with. They did not have to do this in the middle of an election campaign. Remember I contacted them two months ago.

Despite this I want to make it clear that I support the PSNI. I will continue to work with others to build a genuinely civic policing service. The old guard which is against change whether in the PSNI leadership, within unionism or the far fringes of republicanism, or the Dark Side of the British system cannot be allowed to deny any of the people – Protestant, Catholic or Dissenter – from our entitlement to a rights-based, citizen-centred society as set out in the Good Friday Agreement.

I am an Irish republican. I want to live in a peaceful Ireland based on equality. I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will but I am glad that I, and others, have created a peaceful and democratic way forward for everyone.

The IRA is gone.

During my interrogations much was made by my interrogators about my time in the Civil Rights struggle in the 1960s, my arrest and detention in Palace Barracks, in Long Kesh and in the peace talks in 1972. Newspaper articles, photographs of Martin McGuinness and I at Republican funerals, books and other open source material were used as the basis of the accusations made against me.

Much of the interrogations concerned the so-called Belfast Project conceived by Paul Bew, University lecturer and a former advisor to former Unionist leader David Trimble, and run by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre as part of Boston College. Both Moloney and McIntyre are opponents of the Sinn Féin leadership and our peace strategy and have interviewed former republicans who are also hostile to me and other Sinn Féin leaders.

These former republicans have accused us of betrayal and sell-out and have said we should be shot because of our support for the Good Friday Agreement and policing. The allegation of conspiracy in the killing of Mrs McConville is based almost exclusively on hearsay from unnamed alleged Boston College interviewees but mainly from Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes.

Other anonymous alleged Belfast Project interviewees were identified only by a letter of the alphabet, eg interview R or Y. One of these is claimed by the PSNI to be Ivor Bell although the interrogators told me he has denied the allegations. I rejected all the allegations made about me in the Boston Tapes.

Finally, let me be clear. There is only one way for our society to go and that is forward. Yes deal with the past. Yes deal with victims but the focus needs to be on the future. That is the road we are on. There will be bumps in that road. There will be diversions. Obstacles will be erected. We know that.

I thank everyone for their support.

I extend sympathy to the McConville family and all those who have suffered especially at the hands of republicans.

My resolve remains as strong as ever. It is to build the peace and see off the sinister forces, who are against equality and justice for everyone.

6 Comments

  1. John reid says:

    I don’t see how Adams can mention Martin. McGuiness and 1972 without mentioning the first shot fired on a Bloody Sunday, and what does Bobby sands starving himself to death, have to do with Jean McConville in1972, I’ll take on face value Adams denial of any involvement, which is at least more than The IRA/Sinn Fein trying to blame Thatcher for the IRA hunger strike prisoners starving themselves to death,

  2. Robert says:

    Deals done behind close doors to end the bombings and killing, when justice for the dead is needed but not given. the idea these leaders of the IRA did nothing no bombing no killing no orders, is beyond me how they have got away with it.

    Well if you want peace what is the price your willing to pay seems the law is the price..

  3. James Martin says:

    It’s hard to believe that Adams’ arrest was not politically motivated in the circumstances.

    But yes, of course there are difficulties in finding a balance between dealing with previous crimes that have not had convictions and moving forward in terms of the peace process. And Adams is right, things are different now. People need to remember that before the civil rights marchers and campaigners were brutally and systematically attacked by loyalist mobs and the ulster police and B-specials, before the pogroms on catholic areas and the burning out of hundreds of families, the IRA was nothing. In fact, the Provisional IRA only arose in the first place because of the perceived inaction of the ‘official’ IRA to defend communities.

    And it was in the context of a civil war that killings like Jean McConville took place. A civil war where at the exact same time we now know (because those responsible openly admitted it in a TV documentary the other month) that the British army operated ‘kill squads’ who drove around Catholic areas killing random civilians and hoping the blame would fall on loyalists. This is documented fact, and it needs always to be remembered for the simple fact that in that kind of warfare (where we where very far from being the good guys) those accused of collaboration with the other side (mistakenly in McConville’s case) do not often end well.

  4. swatantra says:

    Agree with James martin apart from the politically motivated bit. The police had no option but to arrest after all the ‘evidence’ and comments from the McConville Family and the Boston tapes are a disgrace, they should not have been released until All the main participants in the Civil Rights struggle are dead, ie Adams and McGuiness. People forget the arrogance aof the Prottestant faction who ruled the roost and fixed politics and denied rights to the Catholic faction. The Catholics Sein Fein and IRA had no option but to engage in armed conflict. As in most conflicts there were attrocities committed on both sides. But a line must be drawn now, and everybbody move on. You can’t bring back the dead; and the events of 40 years ago should not eat up the victims that suffered and dominate the rest of their lives.

  5. John Reid says:

    James Martin, d’you really believe that or are you saying it, to get a reaction.

  6. James Martin says:

    I don’t understand what you mean John? But the problem with issues like this is that you cannot look at them in isolation.

    Look at the lead up to McConville’s kidnap and murder at the end of 1972. The year before around 7,000 Catholics had been forced out of their homes by loyalist mobs actively supported by the RUC and B-Specials, while at the same time the British army introduced internment (which if you remember amounted to hundreds of nationalist civilians held indefinitely without charge or trial), and the Para’s had murdered 11 civilians at Ballymurphy. In 1972 you had Bloody Sunday in January (27 civilians shot, 14 dead, all by British soldiers, again including Para’s), in July 5 Catholics were killed by British army snipers in Belfast and the newly formed UDA were also carrying out gun and bomb attacks on Catholic areas. And it is now also documented (and openly admitted by those who took part) that kill squads of British soldiers in plain clothes regularly went out in unmarked cars (in groups of three) cruising around Belfast and shooting dead a number of unarmed Catholics with the apparent intention of sowing fear.

    At the same time the Provisionals were of course engaged in their own dead-end individual terror bombing campaign, however throughout the period leading up to McConville’s murder more people had been killed by the British army than anyone else.

    And that is the context of a civil war where we need to properly view how organisations like the IRA dealt with those they believed were informers. I do not condone it, but I do try and understand it.

    But back to Adams. What we do know of the evidence against him appears to come mainly from (the now dead) Delours Price. Price and her sister were active IRA members, and Delours had admitted she was part of the IRA unit that kidnapped McConville. However, and this is where things become murky, the Price sisters also actively opposed Adams and the Good Friday peace agreement and believed Adams was a traitor to the republican cause, and did all she could to destroy his reputation. So I say again, if this is the ‘evidence’ used to hold Adams for days and then release him without charge during the time he is involved in an election campaign on both sides of the border then it is in my view a politically motivated act by a section of the NI police.

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