Wednesday 21 August 2019

Adams denies fear that past would be raised in any run for the presidency

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams leaving Leinster House yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams leaving Leinster House yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said he has "no intention" of running for president, but denies it is because he fears questions about his past would arise on the campaign trail.

Meanwhile, he is still refusing to pass on to gardaí the name of an IRA man who looked into the murder of prison officer Brian Stack.

Mr Adams was speaking after a Sinn Féin protest at Leinster House over a delay in extending voting rights in presidential elections to Irish citizens in the North and overseas.

He denied that his party was pressing the issue in a bid to benefit from a likely electoral boost if voters in its northern power base could cast a ballot in the next Áras race, which could come as early as 2018.

He said rather it was "to do with the rights of people in the North" and because it was a measure recommended during the constitutional convention.

Asked about his own potential ambitions to run, he told the Irish Independent: "I have no intention of standing for a presidential election."

He dismissed the suggestion this was due to fears that questions about his past could arise, or because he could be confronted by the families of IRA victims - like Brian Stack's son Austin - during the campaign.

"No, no. That's never been a consideration for me," he said, repeating that he had "no intention" of seeking election to the presidency.

Mr Adams was last week confronted at a press conference by Austin Stack, who asked Mr Adams to tell gardaí the identity of the IRA man he and his brother were brought to meet in a blacked-out van in 2013.

Pressure

However, Mr Adams has refused to name the individual who confirmed to the Stack brothers that Provisional IRA members carried out the murder of their father.

Mr Adams has come under pressure on the matter from Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin, but has not reconsidered his decision not to pass on the name.

Read more: Comment: Adams and Sinn Féin trying to have it both ways on the continuing Troubles legacy

"I've set my position out very clearly in the Dáil and I stand over all of that," he said.

Senators who turned out for the protest about voting rights backed Mr Adams's decision.

Niall Ó Donnghaile claimed Mr Adams had "gone beyond the call of duty" in trying to help families who have lost loved ones. Separately, he criticised Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael for blocking a Sinn Féin Seanad bill to extend voting rights to citizens in the North and the diaspora, accusing them of "long-fingering" the issue.

"They pay lip-service by saying they're committed to it, but they don't appear to be doing anything to enact it," Mr Ó Donnghaile said.

A Fianna Fáil spokesman said the party was supportive of the Sinn Féin motion, but said it was "premature" in the absence of detailed work on implementation.

"We agree that it has taken too long... but we have made it clear to Fine Gael that this needs to be prioritised," he said.

In the Dáil, Mr Kenny told Mr Adams he expected an update on the matter next month.

Mr Adams referred to President Higgins as "Michael D" in his contribution. Mr Kenny said he believed the President would like to be referred to by his title Uachtarán na hÉireann.

Irish Independent

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