Irish Republican News · February 23, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]

Sinn Féin has gone closer than ever to urging the IRA to stand down by declaring that, for republicans, “any and all activities that fall outside the norms of legitimate political action should cease forthwith”.

In a significant statement to the Dublin parliament, Sinn Féin Dail leader Caoimhghin O Caolain said his party “rejects criminality of any kind” and that “no republican worthy of the name can be involved in criminality”.

Mr O Caolain’s statement comes after a week of intense attacks on Sinn Féin after a former party councillor was accused of being involved in a money laundering ring.

A large sum of cash found in raids in Cork has been linked to the Provisional IRA by Garda police, who believe some of the cash can be traced to a bank robbery in Belfast last year.

In a separate development, five Dublin men arrested in October 2002 for membership of the Provisional IRA were jailed for four years by the non-jury Special Criminal Court on Monday. The men were accused of planning criminal activity and were arrested in a van which contained election posters for Sinn Féin TD, Angus O Snodaigh.

Speaking at Leaders Questions in parliament on Tuesday, Mr O Caolain declared that anyone in Sinn Féin involved in criminal acts “should leave our ranks immediately”.

He said there was no room in his party for anything other than “a clear and unambiguous commitment to democratic politics and the pursuit of our goals by legal and peaceful means”.

The Taoiseach welcomed the Sinn Féin statement, but also declared that it “cannot simply be accepted at face value”.

He demanded that IRA decommissioning be completed and an end to what he called “criminality and paramilitarism”.

He claimed he had been “doing almost nothing else” for the past two years except working on the peace process.

“We have to see this and unfortunately that isn’t what we`re seeing,” he said.

“What we’re seeing effectively is that large amounts of money are being hauled around by this one, that one and the other one, laundering it for the Provisional IRA.

“We have to get to a position where we can move on.”

Speaking later on irish television, Mr O Caolain said he wanted his message to be unambiguous.

“I’ve made it clear today. I’ve made it clear and clearer I believe than I’ve ever done before that we’re working towards an end to the Irish Republican Army.

“All of the years of hard work leading up to the Good Friday Agreement and since has created great frustration for the Sinn Féin leadership, as much and perhaps more than any other opinion on this island and we want to see a conclusion to all of this reached and reached speedily.”

The following is the full text of the statement made by Mr O Caolain in the Dail on Tuesday.

Will the Tanaiste acknowledge that I say here without equivocation that Sinn Féin is a party that rejects criminality of any kind and that no republican worthy of the name can be involved in criminality? Will she note that I go further and state that if there are within this party people who are involved in criminal acts then they should leave our ranks immediately. Will she note that I say there is no room in Sinn Féin for other than a clear and unambiguous commitment to democratic politics and the pursuit of our goals by legal and peaceful means.

Will the Tanaiste acknowledge that the members, elected representatives and supporters of this party are entitled to the same respect due to all citizens, to the presumption of innocence and not to be damned and demonised?

Does the Tanaiste recognise that in a climate such as this there are efforts being made to spread guilt by innuendo, guilt by association and guilt because of the political views of people and not because of anything they have done?

Will the Tanaiste note that while it would be easy at this time to devote all our energies to the war of words, to remain on the defensive and to be distracted from our purpose and pursuits that I have chosen instead to spell out very clearly our responsibilities to address any and every matter that requires our address.

Will the Tanaiste and the House note that if republicans have issues to address we will address them. If there are republicans involved in any activity that in any way besmirches the name of Irish republicanism they should cease those activities immediately. Any and all activities that fall outside the norms of legitimate political action should cease forthwith.

Will the Tanaiste and this House accept that we in Sinn Féin are as determined as ever to take whatever hard decisions must be taken to move the peace process forward?

Will the Tanaiste note our determination to continue to play the role we have played in helping to create this process, in helping to bring about the cessations, in helping to bring about the Good Friday Agreement and all that has flowed from it and that it is our intent to actively pursue and achieve the full and I repeat, full implementation of the Good Friday Agreement with all that that entails.

Will the Tanaiste note and acknowledge our determination to see all guns taken out of Irish politics and to be part of the collective effort that will create the conditions where the IRA ceases to exist?

Will the Tanaiste accept that republicans have taken many difficult decisions in this peace process in the past and that the Sinn Féin leadership has moulded a political strategy that has brought the vast majority of republicans away from physical force, and that that process is not ended and will continue to a successful conclusion?

Will she note that my colleague Deputy O Snodaigh has stated categorically that he has no knowledge of and was in no way connected with any activity for which five people were convicted yesterday.

Will she note my rejection and that of my fellow Sinn Féin TDs of the brutal murder of Robert McCartney and our call for anyone who can assist the family to do so, and our absolute opposition to intimidation in any form.

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© 2005 Irish Republican News