Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has accused Dublin premier Bertie Ahern of ‘crossing the line’ over allegations that he and Martin McGuinness were aware of plans to carry out a bank raid before Christmas.

Mr Adams has called on Ahern to withdraw the allegations or else have him charged with a criminal offence.

The Dublin and London governments have said they back the conjecture of the PSNI police that the Provisional IRA were responsible for a giant cash raid on the Northern Bank in Belfast in December.

No evidence to link the IRA or any other group to the heist has emerged.

However, the Fianna Fail leader made the extraordinary allegation last month that the Sinn Féin leadership were aware of the bank heist plan even as last year’s negotiations were reaching their climax.

Ahern’s declaration, broadcast moments after the accusation against the IRA was made by the PSNI chief Hugh Orde, effectively marked the collapse of peace efforts in the North.

A bitter war of words quickly erupted between Sinn Féin and rival political groups. In particular, Ahern was accused of playing “dirty politics” with the peace process ahead of crucial elections in the North in May.

“I think the Taoiseach has crossed the line. It’s time for him to shut up or put up,” said Mr Adams.

“I don’t go for this wink-and- nod politics where they say what they say and then they say to you and to others, you know, well it’s hard to bring these people to court and we need them for the process and so on and so forth.

“If he [Mr Ahern] believes that I am involved in a criminal conspiracy to rob, and that I withheld information, then he has a civic responsibility to make sure that I am subjected and Martin McGuinness is subjected to the due process.”

Mr Adams said malign elements in the British system were “laughing” at the outbreak of civil war within Irish nationalism.

Speaking in Belfast on Thursday, he said it was the success of Sinn Féin which had unleashed “a torrent of abuse”.

“It is almost like the days before the peace process, when the Irish and British establishments and unionist parties ganged up, trying to outdo each other in anti-Sinn Féin hysteria, aided at times by compliant sections of the media.”

The Taoiseach responded by accusing Mr Adams of being “childish”.

“Letting on that the cigarettes weren’t taken or that the drink wasn’t taken or the petrol wasn’t taken or the punishment beatings didn’t happen, sure that’s kind of childish stuff,” said Mr Ahern.

“All that we were stating was facts and now the facts have been collaborated by the garda, by the British government, by the PSNI, by everybody, so I mean it’s a senseless thing.”

But Mr Adams pointed to an interview with PSNI Chief Hugh Orde published this week, in which Orde admitted he had “no idea” if the Sinn Féin leadership knew about the robbery.

“The fact is that he [Ahern] has made a claim which he cannot corroborate or substantiate... The Taoiseach should stop making these malicious and untrue allegations.”

He called for clear-the-air talks with the Taoiseach to resolve the row.

“It is important that when we get to that point that genuine dialogue should be conducted in an atmosphere which makes success possible.

“That is one of the reasons why we are so vigorous in defending ourselves from these accusations.”


Sinn Féin chief negotiator Mr McGuinness also said the crisis was particularly damaging.

Mr McGuinness described what was happening as “pure electoralism gone mad”.

“It is electoralism being put over and above the need for a successful peace process. Why is that?” he said.

“The agenda is that the taoiseach in particular sees the profile of Gerry Adams as too high for his liking. Other political leaders in the south are also affected by this.

“It absolutely galls them that Gerry Adams is right up there in terms of satisfaction with the voters of the south.

“They have decided to burst his bubble and have decided to try and bring the Sinn Féin [electoral] balloon down and are prepared to resort to every dirty trick in the book.”


Mr Adams also said he will never again allow his party to be used by the Dublin and London governments as “a conduit” to the IRA.

Mr Adams said that this was one of the political lessons he had learned recently.

The two governments had apparently used Sinn Féin negotiators to persuade the IRA to make difficult concessions on its continued activity and existence. The IRA’s advanced position was embarrassingly exposed when the talks inevitably collapsed.

Earlier this month, in a statement highly critical of the governments’ handling of the negotiations, the IRA rescinded its offer.

Mr Adams said that when Sinn Féin goes in to talk to a British or Irish government, it would say “we don’t represent the IRA”.

The West Belfast MP said: “I will ensure that they will never have the opportunity to use or abuse us as a conduit ever again in the future.”

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© 2005 Irish Republican News