Micheal Martin tells Gerry Adams on RTE debate: 'I wasn't responsible for the murder of anybody'
A debate between Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin and Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams led to a heated row in which Martin attacked Gerry Adams saying: "I don't have to legitimise the murder of anybody. You do."
Martin's statement came at the end of a heated live debate on RTE's Radio One this morning.
The two party leaders were on RTE Radio One's 'Morning Ireland' today for a debate following Micheal Martin's criticism of Sinn Fein at a 1916 Arbour Hill commemoration event yesterday. Mr Martin, during his speech at the event, said Gerry Adams cannot be allowed to "falsify and distort" history.
The pair attacked each other on air this morning but it became more scathing towards the end.
Broadcaster Fran McNulty asked Adams if he had any regrets telling an American media outlet that the abduction and murder of widowed mother-of-ten Jean McConville was something "that happens in war".
Adams would not answer the question directly - and used the opportunity to hit out at Fianna Fail leader Martin.
"Well the fact is war should not be glamorised. War is desperate. Part of what we need to look at is that we ended the war.
"If we want to talk about history, let's talk about the history of Micheal Martin's 14 years in government, his legacy, the water charges, the bankrupting of the State, the abandonment of communities, the almost half a million people in the past eight years who have been forced to emigrate, the brown envelope culture, the Galway tent....
"The legacy that we're left with now that €64bn of taxpayers' money was given to bankers and the ordinary people are expected to pay the costs of it. These are legitimate issues but Micheal Martin harps on about it rather than face up to the reality. Not bringing forward anything positive, that he's not policy, no hope for the future. It's all about desperation."
McNulty brought Adams back to the issue of Jean McConville's death. He quoted her son Michael McConville who said that if his mother's death is something that happens in war, then her killing must a be a war crime. McNulty asked Adams if he agreed with the sentiment.
However the Sinn Fein leader refused to answer the question saying such issues are being used to deflect attention away from political parties such as Fianna Fail and that he didn't "want to get into any debate about these hugely emotive issues".
He finished his statement off by saying Martin only mentions the "North in a cheap shot against Sinn Fein".
Martin came back and denied this - and told Adams he would never have to legitimise murder.
"I've been making these points consistently over the last four years and the point I would make to Gerry very simply, Gerry, in terms of legacy, I wasn't responsible for the murder of anybody.
"I don't have to legitimise the murder of anybody.
"I don't have to legitimise the murder of anybody. You do.
"And you continue to do it. And to the day I leave public life, I will never allow you Gerry to wash away the atrocities that were committed by your movement."