Irish Republican News · December 19, 2005
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Sinn Fein leaders angry but defiant

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has now called on the British government to accept responsibility for bringing down the North’s power-sharing executive in 2002.

Mr Adams was speaking on Monday after talks with British Direct Ruler Peter Hain in the wake of the Donaldson/’Stormontgate’ scandal.

But Mr Adams was careful not to suggest that the collapse had been ordered from London, instead blaming “political policing” for creating a debacle.

Mr Adams said: “Essentially this issue is about the need for the British government to both accept responsibility for what has happened and what is happening and also to end political policing”.

“A very unique power-sharing administration was toppled after centuries of conflict ... The truth of the matter is that British agencies were at the heart of that coup d’etat,” he told reporters.

Mr Adams: “We are not going to be deflected by anything from that historic task.

“But it is not good enough for a British Secretary of State to simply dismiss the fact that his state agencies behave in the way they behave,” he added.

Earlier Mr Hain ruled out an inquiry into the matter, saying it was not in the public interest to do so.

“Frankly, we have had inquiries galore in Northern Ireland. They cost hundreds of millions of pounds,” he said.

But Sinn Fein’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said there were people within the North’s police force and within British intelligence who were hostile to his party’s participation in the peace process.

“It is now time for the British to answer questions about their agents, about their agencies, and about their approach to the process,” he said.

“What we are calling on them to do is declare that their war against republicans and the peace process is finally over.”

The Sinn Fein leadership has come under strong criticism from republicans for its previous strong denials of allegations that Britain had placed an informer in its highest ranks.

Placing all its trust in a self-supporting ‘elite’ coterie of leaders, including Donaldson, those who questioned the party’s direction were treated harshly and with disdain.

Some republicans are now pointing to the lack of tangible progress in the peace process and arguing that the leadership itself must now come under suspicion.

However, Martin McGuinness has insisted that the Sinn Fein leadership group “intends to go on”.

“This isn’t the first time a British agent has been uncovered and what we do in this circumstance, just like in the other situations we have had to deal with over the years, we pick ourselves up and we obviously learn the lessons and face the disappointment of what has happened over the last while,” he said.

“We have huge responsibilities and we have to go on and we intend to go on. The Sinn Fein leadership is not going to lie down.”

In a slight hardening of tone, Mr McGuinness said revelations that the British government has been spying on Sinn Fein “will have consequences”.

“That means a lot of very straight talking about things... I think the type of challenges that republicans have had to face are now the same sort of challenges that have to be faced by the British government and others within the process. And that is, how do we deal with the militarists within the PSNI, the anti agreement policemen? These are challenges for the British government now, for Hugh Orde and the Policing Board.”

Mr McGuinness said the Sinn Fein leadership “isn’t going to let those people win”.

There’s no prospect of Sinn Fein becoming involved in policing until we bring about the transfer of powers and the achievement of all the commitments that were made by the British government in their negotiations with us last December.”

The Mid-Ulster MP said the British government was now under pressure to deliver on key issues.

“It’s a very simple scenario which the British have to deliver on. The British have to face the type of challenges that we have had to face and give answers to them in the same fashion we have had to in recent times. They are essentially going to have to tell us how they intend to stop the activities of these hostile forces, many of whom are being paid wages by them on a weekly basis.

Mr McGuinness acknowledged the shock felt in republican circles by last weeks revelations and described Mr Donaldson’s actions as a “betrayal”.

“Republicans are obviously very disappointed that someone like Denis Donaldson would effectively betray his community and betray republicanism in the way that he did.

“I am around the struggle long enough to know that you always have to work on the basis that opponents of the process, which is about trying to achieve the rights of citizens and the freedom, justice and peace that Ireland as a nation and the Irish people are entitled to, will continue to beaver away to undermine those who are spearheading the struggle to bring about fundamental change in our society.

“You would be very foolish to ignore the possibility that the British have got other agents working right through the entire process.”

Mr McGuinness denied that the leadership of republicanism had been infiltrated, because otherwise “republicanism wouldn’t be as strong as it is today.

“Republicanism would have been defeated an awful long time ago, and I think that clearly shows that these people haven’t got the level of infiltration that they would like to have within the leadership of Sinn Fein and generally throughout the Sinn Fein organisation.”

And rather than lick his wounds over the revelation that one of his top aides was a British informer, Adams has come out swinging against what he described as “wreckers” and “dissident elements” within British rule in Ireland.

“Sinn Fein has not been alone in identifying elements within the British system who have been involved for many years in a planned, systematic campaign to undermine the peace process,” Mr Adams said ahead of his talks.

“Senator George Mitchell, Chris Patten and even Hugh Orde have all spoken of those within the British system working against the peace process and the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement.

“Despite the intrigues of these dissident elements significant progress has been made. However more would have been achieved, and more quickly but for their plotting.”

Mr Adams pointed to what he claimed was “a new opportunity” to make progress in the New Year following the Provisional IRA’s “historically significant initiatives” to disarm and end its armed campaign.

“The New Year will see important efforts being made to restore the political institutions,” said Mr Adams.

“All of this is at risk because of these dissident elements within the British system.

“The onus to stop this lies with the British government. It has to take whatever steps are necessary to rein in the wreckers who are opposing British government policy. And there has to be an end to political policing.”

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