'A vote for Sinn Féin is a vote for IRA army council,' claims Tánaiste in Dáil
Sinn Féin's denial of links to the IRA and its army council have faced ridicule as the party continues to reel from the fallout of the publication of two reports into paramilitary activity.
There were tense scenes in the Dáil last night as senior political figures lined up to attack Sinn Féin over the party's alleged connections to violence, dissident republicans and criminal activity.
Tánaiste Joan Burton said that a vote for Sinn Féin was a vote for a party still associated with the IRA's army council.
The Labour Party leader was referring to the findings of a UK report, which stated that IRA members still believe that Sinn Féin is controlled by the army council.
"The assessment by the British government of the IRA is clear. The army council continues to exist and exerts control over Sinn Féin," Ms Burton said.
"It asks fundamental questions about our democracy if a party that is in government in the North and aspires to government in the South, continues to operate in this way. Vote Sinn Féin, get the army council."
During a two-hour debate on the North, Taoiseach Enda Kenny said claims that the IRA had "gone away or have left the stage are simply not credible".
He said: "It is the responsibility of Sinn Féin, and in particular its leadership, to address these issues and to help restore the trust that has been lost."
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that Sinn Féin treated anyone who criticised the party as an "enemy of the peace".
Amid the series of extraordinary attacks on his party, Gerry Adams replied: "It takes an awful lot of patience to sit here and listen to this rubbish."
The Louth TD accused British intelligence chiefs of putting peace in the North at risk in a bid to stop the growth of his party.
"The very people - in MI5 and in the old guard of the RUC - who produced the recent report have also brought in a veto to stop the families of victims of British terrorism from getting the truth about what happened to their loved ones," he said.
"These are the same people who directed agents and informers and paramilitary organisations that killed hundreds of citizens, including citizens in this city with the Dublin-Monaghan bombs, and stirred sectarian violence and colluded in murder."
The Dáil debate came after the Irish Independent reported that Mr Adams and Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald will travel to New York for a Sinn Féin fundraiser taking place tomorrow.
Tickets for the event, to be held in the four-star Sheraton Hotel, are $500 (€450) per person.
Mr Adams rejected any questions over Sinn Féin's fundraising efforts.
"We publish our accounts. Go and look at them. We are successful. We have a large degree of jealousy among the other parties about the support Sinn Féin gets, particularly within Irish-America, but within the wider diaspora.
"That's because we invest time and we invest effort to keep those people informed of what is going on here," he said.