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'Adams was on army council, I'll be shot for saying so' - ex-IRA man

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Gerry Adams: He has consistently denied claims he was in the IRA. Picture: Collins

Gerry Adams: He has consistently denied claims he was in the IRA. Picture: Collins

Gerry Adams: He has consistently denied claims he was in the IRA. Picture: Collins

A former top IRA man has dismissed Gerry Adams's claim that he was never in the provisionals.

And Des Long, from Limerick, has told a BBC NI documentary he would probably be shot for saying so.

Mr Long, who fell out with Mr Adams after a split in the republican movement in the 1980s, said the former Sinn Féin leader was on the IRA's ruling army council and was for a time chief of staff.

Mr Long told the second episode of the BBC'S 'Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History': "You can't be on the army council unless you're a volunteer. And you can't be chairman of the army council unless you're a member of the army council.

"And I'm saying that as having sat opposite him [Adams] at meetings. I'll probably get shot for it but I'm saying it."

Mr Adams didn't take part in the documentary series but he has consistently rejected claims that he was ever in the IRA.

This denial was laughed off by Mr Long, who is seen in the documentary giving IRA recruits weapons training.

David Ramsbotham, who was a senior British army officer in Northern Ireland in the 1970s, said of Mr Adams: "We were aware that he was a highly intelligent man and that he had never used a pistol or thrown a bomb.

"But he was definitely a strategic planner of the highest order and he was, I thought, directing the political direction of the IRA."

The documentary said that Mr Adams's importance within the republican movement was evident as far back as the 1970s.

It said that after the bloodiest year of the Troubles, 1972, which the IRA wrongly thought would be their "year of victory", Mr Adams set about rebuilding the provisionals for their "long war".

The programme said the army also took on a new role in 1972 to "seek out the enemy" but was faced with the problem of no-go areas, the biggest of them in what became known as "Free Derry" where the security forces estimated there were 500 IRA gunmen.

But amid the violence there were moves toward peace in the city. Reporter Darragh MacIntyre is filmed visiting the home of the then Lord Lieutenant of Derry Michael McCorkell in Ballyarnett House, which was the venue for the first secret meeting between the IRA and British officials. Mr McCorkell's wife Aileen, who helped run the Red Cross in Free Derry, kept a record of the talks.

Sinn Féin was contacted for comment but had not responded at the time of going to print.

Irish Independent