Sunday 15 December 2019

Adams's gun joke a 'threat' to free press - Burton

Tanaiste Joan Burton said Gerry Adams should withdraw his comments. Photo: Tom Burke
Tanaiste Joan Burton said Gerry Adams should withdraw his comments. Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor and John Downing

GERRY Adams's shocking remarks about a newspaper editor being held at gunpoint represent a veiled threat to the country's free press, according to Tanaiste Joan Burton.

The Labour Party leader yesterday launched a stinging rebuke of the Sinn Fein President's decision to joke about a gun being placed at the head of the editor of the Irish Independent.

Ms Burton used her speech in the Dail to highlight the deaths of journalists Veronica Guerin and Martin O'Hagan, who were both gunned down during the course of their duties.

She claimed that the remarks made by Mr Adams at a lavish Sinn Fein dinner in New York should be withdrawn.

"The comments by Deputy Adams at last week's fundraiser in New York about going to smash up printing presses is a barely concealed threat to the modern media of the consequences of interfering with "powerful men," the Labour leader said.

"In recent years Irish journalists such as Veronica Guerin and Martin O'Hagan have been murdered, and we continue to see the savagery meted-out to members of the media reporting international conflicts.

"A free press is a cornerstone of our democracy. I would ask Deputy Adams to withdraw and apologise for these remarks and remove the veiled threat that has been made to the press in Ireland," Ms Burton added.

At the event in Manhattan, Mr Adams stated: "And when the Irish Independent condemned his actions as 'murder most foul' what did Michael Collins do?

"He dispatched his men to the office of the Independent and held the editor at gunpoint as they dismantled the entire printing machinery and destroyed it."

The remarks, which were later repeated by Mr Adams in his blog, were criticised by several TDs and ministers yesterday.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald told the Irish Independent that Mr Adams's veiled gun threat was "abhorrent".

"It is abhorrent to use imagery like that in this day and age. This is a democracy and we use democratic means to deal with issues," Ms Fitzgerald said.

Fine Gael TD for Limerick, Patrick O'Donovan, said that the media scrutinise all politicians - which is part and parcel of a free press.

He said that Mr Adams should issue an apology to the staff of Independent News and Media (INM), some of whom he said are concerned about the gun threat.

Mr O'Donovan also stated that Mr Adams is "no Michael Collins" after the Sinn Fein leader likened himself to the rebel leader.

Labour TD Michael McCarthy said Mr Adams's attempt to "shut the media down is literally beyond belief".

Fianna Fail's Justice Spokesperson Niall Collins told the Dail that the remarks are "disgusting and despicable".

Mr Adams's comments at the fundraiser have been widely condemned by groups both at home and abroad.

Irish Independent

Also in this section