Thursday, February 10, 2005

Arrest me or shut up

Gerry Adams has called on Bertie Ahern to put up or shut up:

Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, reacted with fury today to an official report that senior party leaders sanctioned the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery in Belfast and challenged Bertie Ahern, the Irish Prime Minister, to have him arrested if he thought it was true.

The report from the Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC), which follows paramilitary activity in the Northern Ireland, said the senior members were also part of the IRA leadership that gave the go-ahead for three other raids resulting in the theft of more than £3m of goods last year.

Police investigating the Northern Bank raid in December are continuing to carry out searches in Beragh, near Omagh, Co Tyrone. The commission, which monitors paramilitary activity, did not identify Sinn Fein members in senior positions in the IRA, but its report - which recommended financial penalties against Sinn Fein - said the party now faced a stark choice over the future direction of republicanism.

"In our view, Sinn Fein must bear its share of responsibility for all of the incidents," the report said. "Some of its senior members, who are also senior members of the Provisional IRA, were involved in sanctioning the series of robberies."

Mr Adams called on Mr Ahern to withdraw his allegations that he had prior knowledge of the December heist or else have him charged with conspiracy to rob and withholding information. He said: "I think the Taoiseach has crossed the line. It’s time for him to shut up or put up."

The Sinn Fein leader said there were sinister aspects in the report by the IMC which he described as "three spooks and a lord" and a tool of the British and Irish governments.

Mr Adams said: "The report is rubbish. The report makes unsubstantiated allegations. If it wasn’t so serious it would be even laughable. I feel a particular sense of betrayal by the Taoiseach. I think the Taoiseach has crossed the line and the line that he has crossed - and I took legal advice on this - was to accuse Martin McGuinness and I of conspiracy to rob and of withholding information. I feel particularly angry about that."


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