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Sunday 20 April 2014

Adams stands by RUC deaths comment

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has refused to back down over controversial comments that two of the most senior RUC officers killed by the IRA had themselves to blame.

The republican leader insisted his comments reflect those of the Smithwick report, which raised concerns about the security arrangements in place for Chief Superintendent Harry Breen and Superintendent Bob Buchanan.

"I've made my position clear. I stand over the accuracy of the fact that those officers were at risk and I drew that from the report," Mr Adams said.

"I didn't make it up. It's in the report.

"I also think that the recommendations in the report should be acted upon with some common sense."

Politicians on all sides in Dublin and Belfast reacted in disbelief after Mr Adams said the men effectively drove themselves to their own death.

Mr Adams claimed his comments echoed what was recorded by Judge Peter Smithwick at the end of an eight-year investigation.

Mr Adams said he does not need to be reminded that there are two families at the heart of the issue.

"We can go over this and over this and over this. I've already said it was not my intention to cause any further hurt to the families," he said.

The Smithwick tribunal found an unidentified IRA mole in the Garda station in Dundalk tipped off a terrorist hit squad that the men were attending a meeting in the town on the day of the murders, March 20 1989.

Mr Adams said the Smithwick report also recorded concerns about the security arrangements for RUC officers travelling to Dundalk through South Armagh.

He sparked revulsion earlier this week when he claimed the two RUC men thought they were immune from attack and had "a laissez-faire disregard for their own security".

Justice Minister Alan Shatter branded the comments as nauseating, Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said Mr Adams had been deeply insulting and offensive, while unionist politicians said Mr Adams's remarks called into question his judgment.

But the Sinn Fein leader repeated today that he stands by the controversial remarks, which he described as accurate.

"In terms of causing hurt, that was never my intention to cause hurt," Mr Adams said.

"I don't need reminders from anyone that there are victims and the nonsense of suggesting that I was blaming these men for their own deaths, there was never a question that the IRA killed them and it was a brutal killing.

"But it was in the middle of a war and I have also commended those RUC officers Buchanan and Breen as men who were doing their duty as they saw it in the same way as is my belief the IRA volunteers were doing their duty as they saw it."

The report on the Smithwick tribunal revealed a damning expose of collusion, bad policing and misguided loyalty in the Garda.

It stated a Provo mole leaked information that the officers were in Dundalk station for a meeting on the day of their murder, although the source of the collusion has not been identified.

It is suspected there were two people in the station working for the IRA.

Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson said Mr Adams should apologise.

The Democratic Unionist leader, who is in Japan on a trade mission with Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, said Mr Adams' laissez faire remarks were "offensive".

"I would have thought that someone who would recognise that victims are hurting in all of these circumstances, to make such casual remarks, about the death of somebody by murder from people that he was associated with seems entirely inappropriate," he told the BBC.

"I just thought it was an appalling statement to make and he should regret making it and he should publicly apologise for it."

Press Association

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