Tuesday 10 December 2019

Gerry Adams: 'I'm not soft on crime... I am one of the few Oireachtas members who has been shot'

Gerry Adams. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Gerry Adams. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Caroline Crawford and Cormac McQuinn

SINN Fein leader Gerry Adams has insisted his party is not soft on crime, saying he understands the issues as one of the “very few people in the Oireachtas who has actually been shot”.

Mr Adams hit out at the Government claiming it is to blame for the rise in gang crime.

“We’re talking about organised crime which can be tackled and it’s not us that have been soft on crime. It is the Government which has allowed the conditions to prevail where these gangs think that they are above the rule of law. They think they can go in and act with impunity and they should not be allowed to do that.,” he added.

Speaking on Ocean FM in Sligo this morning, Mr Adams said concerns about his party’s planned abolition of the Special Criminal Court has been “hyped out of all proportion”, saying it was simply his opponents trying to score points off Sinn Fein.

“I’m probably one of the very few people in the Oireachtas who has actually been shot. I’m one of the very, very few people whose home has actually been bombed, I’m one of the very few people who even as we speak is under death threat, a viable death threat I’m told by the PSNI by some of the gangs who are involved in this behaviour so we won’t take lectures from people who cut garda numbers,” he added.

Read more: There are double standards - and Sinn Féin's standards

Adams rejected the notion that the party had any baggage that was impacting on votes.

He admitted he had received some “very unsavory” abuse about his past but insisted he was “privileged to know people who had given their very lives” in the Northern conflict.

"I’m like everybody else, like you and everybody listening. I’ve made mistakes in my life but I have devoted my life and my adult life. I’ve been in prison without trial incidentally because of my position.

"Yes I have been subjected to some abuse, very very unsavory and my family are very offended by some of the things said about me but that goes with the turf. I’ve been privileged to know people who have given their very lives, when there was a war and I don’t glamourise any of that. We are in a new dispensation.

"I played some part in bringing that about,” he added.

Leaving the Ocean FM studios, Mr Adams came face to face with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

While the pair had studiously avoided each other earlier in the morning at the Sligo Park hotel, both men shook hands outside the studio this morning.

Read more: Now Sinn Féin wants to scrap anti-terror laws when in power

As Mr Adams waited for the Taoiseach to exit his car he said he would wait to greet Mr Kenny this time.

"It's a case of come out, come out wherever you are Enda," he said.

As the Taoiseach entered the radio studio he called the Sinn Fein leader over, with both men exchanging pleasantries as Gaeilge.

The Taoiseach also greeted the Sinn Fein candidate for Sligo Chris McNamara warning him "you're up against a formidable Fine Gael team in Sligo".

"You're up against a formidable Sinn From team here as well," said Mr McManus.

"Of course yeah, we're up for that competition," countered the Taoiseach.

Mr Adams also hit back at Fianna Fáil for saying he's soft on crime.

Speaking to Independent he said: "I think that's an insult.

"We have stood up to armed gangsters and crime of all types. I've stood with communities against them. Fianna Fáil is the government which closed Templemore [garda training college] which cut Garda figures.

"We appreciate very, very much the difficulities that people are suffering not least because of the actions of anti-social [behaviour] but particularly organised crime."

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