Sunday 23 November 2014

Almost 30 years on, Sinn Fein leader still a suspect

The last time Gerry Adams was arrested it was in relation to one of the worst atrocities of the Troubles.

Published 04/05/2014 | 02:30

Jean McConville and three of her children before she vanished in 1972
Jean McConville and three of her children before she vanished in 1972
The La Mon House Hotel fire
Bloody Friday
Bobby Sands
Jean McConville
IRA bombing in England
Garda Seamus Quaid

It has been 26 years since Gerry Adams last saw the inside of a police station and faced questioning in relation to an IRA atrocity.

He was arrested in the immediate aftermath of the bomb attack on the La Mon House Hotel in east Belfast in February 1978, in which 12 died and 30 were badly injured. At the time, Adams was reputedly chief of staff of the IRA, though he hotly disputes this claim.

The napalm bomb which incinerated its victims had been made in the Ballymurphy area of west Belfast where he lived.

At the time, the IRA was carrying out a campaign of bombings of hotels and restaurants in Northern Ireland as part of its attempts to drive out foreign investment and hit what there was of the tourist economy.

There had been a series of attacks, including several near misses, in which hotels in Belfast and elsewhere were barely cleared in time to prevent mass loss of life.

The attack on La Mon House, in the predominantly Protestant eastern suburbs of Belfast, was carried out as part of this campaign. More than 100 'blast incendiary' bombs of the same type had been used in attacks on commercial premises prior to La Mon.

After the attack, Adams was charged with membership of the IRA. While he was in prison, the IRA Army Council – in the face of international condemnation – directed that this type of attack stop.

Adams lost his position as chief of staff as he went into prison. When he was released, after the charge was withdrawn in July the same year, Adams returned to the Army Council as a 'non-military' member, according to the author Ed Moloney in his book, The Secret History of the IRA.

Adams has consistently denied ever being a member of the IRA and having any part in directing bombings and murders. He still has the unquestioning support of his party in his denials, which continued last week despite the potential electoral damage his arrest might cause.

Sinn Fein supported him only the previous week when the BBC, following up a story in the Sunday Independent, reported the claim by garda killer, Peter Rogers, that Adams and Martin McGuinness ordered him to transport explosives to England via Rosslare Harbour.

Rogers was moving the explosives when he was stopped by detectives Seamus Quaid and Donal Lyttleton and he shot dead Det Garda Quaid in October 1980.

THE MULTIPLE ATROCITIES AND EVENTS WHICH ADAMS DENIES HAVING ANY INVOLVEMENT IN INCLUDE . . .

Bloody Friday:

SOME 20 car bombs exploded, several without any warning, on the afternoon of July 21, 1972, killing nine people and injuring 130 others. Brendan Hughes, Adams's then close confidante and 'operations officer' in charge of the bombings, said the orders for the atrocity came from Adams – which he denies.

In the book Voices from the Grave – which contains transcripts of Brendan Hughes's interviews with researchers – author Ed Moloney wrote: "The bombings were planned and approved by the entire Belfast Brigade staff, including Seamus Twomey, the brigade commander; Gerry Adams, his adjutant."

Hughes is then quoted as saying of the Bloody Friday operation: "I never carried out a major operation without the OK or the order from Gerry. And for him to sit in his plush office in Westminster or Stormont or wherever and deny it, I mean, it's like Hitler denying that there was ever a Holocaust."

The murder of Jean McConville:

ADAMS denies directing the murder and disappearance of the widowed mother-of-10 Jean McConville, above, in December 1972. His former friends and IRA associates, Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, both stated that Adams gave the order for Mrs McConville to be abducted, transported out of Belfast and executed. Mrs McConville's eldest daughter, Helen McKendry, has repeatedly called for Adams to be arrested as part of the investigation into her murder – deemed a war crime under the Geneva Convention on 'forced disappearances'. Adams insists he had "no hand, act or part" in the murder.

1981 IRA hunger strike:

IN his book Blanketmen, former IRA prisoner Richard O'Rawe claims Adams directed that the 1981 hunger strike be prolonged, after rejecting the British government offer to meet four of the prisoners' five demands for 'political status'.

O'Rawe was privy to the IRA leadership 'comms' (communications) which outlined the offer, and during discussions among the prisoner leaders, the British offer was deemed acceptable. Four prisoners – Bobby Sands, pictured, Francis Hughes, Ray McCreesh and Patsy O'Hara – had already starved themselves to death. Joe McDonnell was close to death and the prisoners hoped his life and those of the others leading the protest could be saved. This was communicated to the Adams leadership on the outside.

"Within 24 hours, a 'comm' was received from Gerry Adams saying the offer was not acceptable and did not validate the deaths of the four hunger strikers. A further six men died before the strike ended on October 3," O'Rawe wrote. Adams denied the claim.

1997 IRA Convention:

A FULL chapter of Ed Moloney's book, The Secret History of the IRA, is devoted to Adams's key role at the top table during the IRA 'convention' held in Falcarragh, Co Donegal in August 1997 to confirm its second and final ceasefire. Moloney, who had access to notes and accounts of the meeting, details how Adams rallied his supporters to defeat the elements of the leadership, mainly from Tyrone, Armagh and Louth, who were opposed to ending the IRA campaign.

A 'putsch' against Adams by anti-ceasefire dissidents failed and, Moloney concludes: "Adams had been battered and damaged by the convention, but he had survived to wreak revenge on his dissident enemies. And, as far as the peace process was concerned, that was all that mattered."

Moloney also wrote: "With the exception of the short period when he was held in jail after the (February 1978) La Mon bombing, Gerry Adams has been on the Army Council since 1977 and was one of its longest serving members. Since his election, first as an Assembly member for west Belfast in 1982 and then the following year as Westminster MP, Adams held no military position in the IRA, making him the only council member in this category.'

IRA Bombings in England:

DOLOURS Price, who died in January last year, said she received orders from Gerry Adams to lead the first IRA bombing attack in London in March 1973 – which he denies. Brendan Hughes too referred to Adams's direction of the bombing campaign, telling researchers: "Gerry was a major, major player in the war, not just in Ireland, but in the decision to send volunteers and bombs to England.

"Gerry Adams was largely responsible and has to accept responsibility for a lot of these things. Gerry was the real OC (officer commanding).

"(Seamus) Twomey was practically out of it by that stage, to the extent that, eventually, we sent him down to Dublin. Gerry was also the OC. Even if he was not the OC in name, Gerry was the man who made the decisions."

Adams's handling of the rape of his niece:

GERRY Adams was cross-examined at length during the trial of his brother, Liam, for the rape and indecent assault of his daughter, Aine, over a five-year period since she was aged just four. Adams admitted that he had first learned of the allegation as far back as 1987. He denied threatening to hit his brother with a hammer during a meeting in Co Donegal when he learned of the abuse. He did admit meeting his brother in Dundalk in 2000 and that his brother admitted his crimes during a "walk in the rain".

After Aine Adams made her formal complaint to the PSNI in 2007, Gerry Adams was questioned by detectives but did not tell them about the 2000 admission. In the witness box, Gerry Adams was presented with a series of photographs showing him in the company of his brother from the 1990s onwards, including ones at family gatherings where they are both smiling. He was also presented with a signed copy of one of his books, with a dedication to Liam. Throughout this period, Liam Adams was working with children in youth clubs and other organisations in Belfast and Dundalk.

Peter Rogers:

IN an exclusive interview with the Sunday Independent last February, the convicted killer of Detective Garda Seamus Quaid, pictured, revealed he had been directly ordered by Adams and Martin McGuinness to transport explosives from Wexford to England for a bombing campaign. This story was followed up by the BBC last week in a televised interview with Rogers – who had previously declined to be photographed.

Rogers repeated that he had made it known to Adams and McGuinness that the explosives were in a dangerous state and he did not want to do the job. He said: "I let them know I wasn't happy. The reason that the stuff hadn't been moved before then was that I wasn't happy with the condition of it and I was looking for it to be replaced. They stepped back from me and they had a bit of a conflab and I was out of earshot. Then they came back and said it wasn't feasible to get any new stuff."

Rogers was transporting the explosives in his van in October 1980 when he was stopped by Det Garda Quaid and his colleague Donal Lyttleton. Rogers opened fire on them, killing Det Garda Quaid. When confronted on the steps of Leinster House by the Sunday Independent with the claim, Adams said: "That's not true." McGuinness did not respond to our queries.

Sunday Independent

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