Fine Gael ‘silly’ on the North - Adams

Gerry Adams told Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny at Stormont yesterday that Fine Gael was not trusted on the “national question” after the Fine Gael leader said he would not enter into a coalition government with Sinn Fein.

Mr Kenny, who met the North’s main party leaders at Stormont told reporters he would not sit in government with Sinn Fein partly because the Provisional IRA army council had not been formally stood down.

His comments appeared to disown the opinion of British military intelligence which stated in 2008 that the Provisional army council was “no longer operational or functional”. A representative said at the time that seeking its disbandment was like “waking somebody up to give them a sleeping tablet”.

Mr Kenny said he had two reasons for refusing to enter a coalition with Sinn Fein, the first of which was because of its economic, taxation and European policy which was “completely contradictory” to Fine Gael’s position.

“Secondly and more importantly in our 26 counties, in our Republic, we have a situation where we have one Army and one Army only. I cannot deal with Sinn Fein because the [IRA] army council has never been stood down.”

Speaking before he met Sinn Fein he said he would make this point to Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness.

“This is an issue, in so far as I am concerned, that is fundamental to the constitution of our country, the fact that we have only one Army. I have given Sinn Fein due credit for the distance it has travelled, but that journey in terms of democratic politics has not yet been completed,” he said.

Fine Gael has long suffered from the popular belief in the 26 Counties that it is the most pro-unionist of the political parties, with its former leader John Bruton still widely known as “John Unionist”. Its failure to increase its popular support led to a failed internal heave against Mr Kenny’s leadership last week.

Mr Adams said the encounter with Mr Kenny was “frank but good” but added that Mr Kenny’s position on Sinn Fein was “offensive” and undemocratic.

“This has nothing to do with the IRA. The IRA has long since left the stage. So quite frankly, and I told Enda this, most democrats, nationalists and republicans don’t trust Fine Gael on the national question or on the North,” said Mr Adams.

“We are pleased to have Fine Gael here. They’re not here often enough otherwise they wouldn’t make such silly statements. For the Fine Gael leader to say such silly things on a visit to Parliament Buildings and at a meeting in which the only government Ministers present are Sinn Fein Ministers, only feeds into those on the unionist and on the fringes of the nationalist side who are opposed to the peace process,” said Mr Adams.

“It is deeply offensive to those who elect me and other Sinn Fein representatives that a senior politician in Leinster House doesn’t uphold the democratic rights of those who vote republican across this island and their right to choose whoever they want to represent them.”

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