Tuesday 20 March 2018

Sinn Fein denies Anglo tapes a smokescreen for Adams

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

SINN Fein is insisting its revelation that it has received Anglo tapes is not intended to deflect attention from mounting pressure on Gerry Adams.

Pearse Doherty, the party's finance spokesman, told the Dail he had passed the latest batch of tapes to the gardai and the Central Bank.

The party said it cannot publish the tapes for legal reasons, but claims the majority of the contents have not yet been put in the public domain.

It comes as Mr Adams faces continuing pressure in the aftermath of 'The Disappeared', an RTE/BBC documentary which featured a recording of the late former IRA commander Brendan Hughes, who accused Mr Adams of ordering the execution of Jean McConville in 1972.

Mr Adams, who is in the United States to raise funds and brief the American administration "on the political situation in Ireland", has insisted that the claims he ordered the murder of Ms McConville are lies.

But Michael McGrath, Fianna Fail's finance spokesman, said the Anglo tapes move was designed to deflect attention from Mr Adams's difficulties.

Fianna Fail TD Willie O'Dea also said his party wants the banking inquiry to be set up as soon as possible, but criticised Mr Doherty's "amateur theatrics".

"It is hard to avoid the suspicion that his showmanship has more to do with Sinn Fein's attempt to distract attention from their failure, and their leader's failure to deal in any meaningful way, with the issues raised in Monday night's harrowing programme on the Disappeared," Mr O'Dea said.

However, a Sinn Fein spokesman said the party did not reveal they were in possession of the tapes until they were told it was legally safe to do so.

The confirmation came on Tuesday night, allowing Mr Doherty to make a Dail statement yesterday.

"We would like to publish them as soon as possible," the spokesman said.

The batch of tapes were dropped through the letterbox of the party's headquarters a number of weeks ago, contained on a USB data key, the spokesman said.

They contain seven conversations involving senior Anglo officials, who Sinn Fein said cannot be identified.

An edited version of one conversation is already in the public domain, as is a "small piece of another". However, Sinn Fein is declining to say if senior figures from the Fianna Fail-Green coalition in power at the time are on the tapes.

In his Dail statement, Mr Doherty said it had always been "my view that the Fianna Fail government had more information in relation to the bank, prior to the guarantee than they have previously disclosed.

"People want to know what was going on within the banks and the contact between senior bankers and the Fianna Fail government in the run-up to the guarantee."

Mr Doherty said the tapes cover a period from February to September 2008, and called for the banking inquiry to be set up "speedily".

"We have also retained a copy of these tapes with my solicitor with a view to publishing them at a future date as the publication of these secret conversations are in the public interest."

He said he had "hand delivered" the tapes to garda headquarters in the Phoenix Park, as well as to the Central Bank.

This was confirmed by the Central Bank and the gardai.

There was public uproar earlier this year when the Irish Independent and 'Sunday Independent' published the Anglo Tapes, which revealed the actions of senior bankers as Anglo Irish Bank collapsed.

It led the Coalition to speed up plans for a banking inquiry.

Irish Independent

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