Wednesday 13 December 2017

Government stands by IRA heist claim

Fionnan Sheahan Political Editor

NOTHING has changed the Government's view that the IRA carried out the Northern Bank raid with the knowledge of the Sinn Fein leadership, Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin has said.

Mr Martin also said that Sinn Fein's leader, Gerry Adams, has to be more "upfront" about his IRA membership if the party ever wants to participate in a proposed body to establish the truth on killings during the Troubles in the North.

Mr Martin said nothing had ever been brought to his attention to clear the IRA of involvement in the December 2004 robbery of £26.5m (€31m).

"No. Never. No, no," he said. "I think Gerry needs to be more upfront about all of this."

Mr Adams has attempted to dismiss the Government's claims of Sinn Fein's knowledge of the raid as a Fianna Fail attempt to smear the party.

But Mr Martin said that when then Taoiseach Bertie Ahern made the initial claim, he was actually having to bite his tongue as he was trying to broker a deal in the North -- a task not helped by the breach of trust caused by the robbery.

"Gerry Adams said there wasn't a shred of evidence. Well, there has been one or two convictions, isn't that right? The trail isn't that far removed from the Provisional movement," Mr Martin said.

Mr Martin said Sinn Fein deserves credit for its role in the peace process.

But there was also a contradiction in Sinn Fein indicating that it wanted to contribute to a Truth Commission, which is currently being debated, and Mr Adams's stance on IRA membership

"All that would involve being really upfront with the past and saying: 'Here's what happened under our watch, here's why it happened, here's the background, here's the motivation behind it' -- give their own rationale and so on," he said.


"That's what they are saying they are up for. I am not sure what format they are up for it in.

"But you can't reconcile that position with the position, you know: 'I was never a member and I never did anything,'" Mr Martin added.

Ahead of next year's general election, Mr Martin said that Sinn Fein was "economically incoherent".

"That's what happened them the last time in the end of the day," he said.

"They have a brand issue as well. In essence, their economic policy has been switching and it's more on the reactive, negative side.

"And that suits for the moment if you are building the electoral base and you've no prospect of being in government. That suits fine. And that is what they are at at the moment.

"But I think, ultimately, to get the critical mass they desire, they'd have to move significantly from where they are in terms of their economic platform," Mr Martin added.

Irish Independent

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