Michael McDowell turns up heat on Gerry Adams in IRA army council row
FORMER Justice Minister Michael McDowell says he categorically stands over his claim that Gerry Adams was on the IRA's army council.
His statement will ratchet up the pressure on the Sinn Fein president after Taoiseach Enda Kenny declared at the weekend his belief that "Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA".
But Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has backed Mr Adams's claim that he was never a member of the Provos and said Mr Kenny was just trying to distract from Fine Gael's problems.
In February 2005, Mr McDowell became the first government minister to directly accuse Mr Adams, Mr McGuinness and Martin Ferris of being members of the IRA's leadership.
Prior to this, there had been suggestions from others that the three men were involved at the top of the IRA, but the then justice minister was the first to make the direct charge.
He named the senior Sinn Fein figures as being three of the seven members of the IRA army council.
"We're talking about a small group of people, including a number of elected representatives, who run the whole (republican) movement," said Mr McDowell at that time.
"We are talking about Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams, Martin Ferris and others."
The former Tanaiste told the Irish Independent that he stands over his original comments and still believes that Mr Adams was a member of the IRA.
"Absolutely. No question about it," he said.
But Mr McGuinness backed up Mr Adams in the wake of the accusation from the Taoiseach.
"Gerry has been on the public record time and again making his position clear and I accept his statement on it," he told this newspaper, adding: "As far as I am concerned, I absolutely accept what Gerry Adams has said when he repudiated the allegation."
Mr Kenny also challenged Mr Adams to back up his calls for a truth commission in the North by being "truthful" himself about his own role in the Troubles.
"When Deputy Adams says to me he wants a truth and reconciliation commission, I'd like him to be absolutely truthful about this," he said.
But Mr McGuinness rejected this point and said: "Gerry has been to the forefront of calling for an international, independent truth and reconciliation commission and he has made it clear he is going to attend. I think that is a very clear statement."
At the weekend, Mr Kenny contrasted Mr Adams's continual denial of being in the IRA with Mr McGuinness's open admission of his involvement at a senior level in the paramilitary organisation.