Tuesday 27 September 2016

Adams: 'I never argued for Ireland to leave the EU after UK vote'

Published 05/07/2016 | 02:30

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams denied the claims. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams denied the claims. Photo by Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has denied that he privately told party members in Northern Ireland he would advocate that the Republic should leave the EU if the Brexit vote was passed.

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The director of the National Platform for EU Research and Information, a private lobby group, made the claim in a letter sent to Mr Adams and all of the party's TDs.

Anthony Coughlan, a retired associate professor of social policy at Trinity College Dublin, said he was handing out pro-Brexit leaflets in Belfast when he was told by a Sinn Féin activist that the party president had been making such comments.

Mr Coughlan claimed that the TD for Louth "had been saying privately to Sinn Féin people that if the UK voted to leave the EU, you would advocate that the Irish State should do the same".

Mr Coughlan went on to write that he would support Mr Adams's approach because "such a course is the only way in which you can save what is left of the Republican project, for which so many people made so many sacrifices over decades, and keep Sinn Féin relevant as a political alternative to the Dáil parties mentioned above".

He noted that he had written Mr Adams "many letters, ever since you first wrote to me from Long Kesh internment camp away back in 1973 looking for information on what was then known as the 'Common Market'".

Distraction

"I am sending you this one in the hope of persuading you that this is the principled Republican and democratic course to take, and that Sinn Féin's talk of a border poll, which has no hope of happening, and no hope of giving a desirable result even if it did happen, is but a distraction from the real issues now facing the country," Mr Coughlan said.

However, Mr Adams said that this was not his position - and that he made no such statements in advance of the UK referendum.

"I know Anthony for a very, very long time. I admire his spirit. I agree with him on many, many positions," he said.

"I share his criticism of the European Union - but for us it was a straightforward position of trying to ensure that one part of the island wasn't in the European Union and the other part outside the European Union," he added.

"I've written back to Anthony [to] point out the position he asserts. He says somebody told him this. That certainly isn't my position," Mr Adams said.

In the letter, which has also been circulated to MLAs and councillors, Mr Coughlan criticises the party's official stance in relation to Brexit.

He claims that Sinn Féin was throwing away an opportunity to establish links with Northern Unionists and that the party had instead aligned itself "with the central policy drive of the British government and with the Goldman Sachses, David Camerons, Peter Sutherlands, Enda Kennys".

"Above all it will be necessary to say that by the South remaining in the EU while the North leaves it along with the rest of the UK, the southern Dáil parties that support continued EU membership will be adding major new dimensions to partition, aggravating the continuing division of the country and conniving at the further handover of what is left of Irish national independence and democracy to Brussels," Mr Coughlan's letter adds.

Irish Independent

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