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Sunday 4 December 2016

Adams gives apology to garda who survived 1976 IRA bomb

Published 22/10/2016 | 02:30

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has extended a Dáil apology made to relatives of "members of State forces who were killed by republicans" to the colleagues of 1976 IRA victim Garda Michael Clerkin.

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Responding to calls for an apology from retired Sergeant Jim Cannon, who escaped death on the day his fellow garda officer was murdered, Mr Adams condemned the attack.

Five Garda officers had been lured to a farmhouse in Co Laois by terrorists who claimed they were holding the then Laois-Offaly Fine Gael TD Oliver J Flanagan, father of the current Laois Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan.

It was just days after the Government had introduced the Emergency Powers Act following the murder of the British Ambassador Christopher Ewart-Biggs in Dublin.

The 40th anniversary of the attack was marked with a memorial mass for Garda Clerkin in Portarlington last week.

Mr Cannon - who still receives treatment for the injuries he suffered - described the survivors as the "forgotten people".

He survived by digging his way out of rubble and stumbling across fields to reach the nearest house.

He called on Mr Adams to apologise on behalf of the bombers who have never been caught, but are believed to have been IRA members.

In response to queries from the Irish Independent, Mr Adams said: "Sinn Fein condemned the attack in which Garda Clerkin was killed and his colleagues grievously injured."

He added: "I would extend to the family of Garda Clerkin and to his colleagues, including retired Sergeant Jim Cannon, my apology in the Dáil in January 2013 when I addressed all of those 'members of the State forces who were killed by republicans in the course of the conflict'."

In that speech, Mr Adams said: "I am very sorry for the pain and loss inflicted on these families. No words of mine can remove that hurt and dreadful deeds cannot be undone.

"However, I restate that the resolve of Sinn Féin and the majority of Irish people is to ensure there will never, ever be a recurrence of conflict."

He added: "Members of An Garda Síochána do a dangerous job and take risks for all of us."

Irish Independent

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