Gerry Adams has been accused of having “lost touch with reality” over comments he made about terrorism after meeting Prime Minister Theresa May in London on Wednesday.
Ulster Unionist justice spokesperson Doug Beattie said the outgoing Sinn Fein president’s remarks – including a rejection of the term ‘terrorism’ to describe the IRA’s campaign of violence – show that Mr Adams is providing a “perverse narrative” of the Troubles.
Addressing the media in Downing Street, Mr Adams said: “I...want to refute the use of this term ‘terrorism’. Pejorative terms like that, which are about the sons and daughters of families, husbands and wives of families, who happened to serve in the Irish Republican Army and who died in the conflict, I don’t use those terms. So let’s have a wee bit of sense about this.”
Mr Beattie said the comments “demonstrate clearly a man who has lost touch with reality”.
The UUP MLA said: “This is the latest Republican attempt to promote a fantasy narrative that the IRA were in some way a civil rights orientated organisation – they were not – the IRA were terrorists and we must challenge this perverse narrative at every turn.
“They were an illegal organisation who used violence against the innocent citizens of Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic, Great Britain and mainland Europe in a bid to destabilise and isolate the United Kingdom.”
Mr Beattie added: “Bloody Friday was an act of terrorism. As was Claudy. As was La Mon and Enniskillen. What other word could be used to describe the murder of two children in a bomb in Warrington?
“Does he really think the IRA murder of soldiers, prison officers and police officers on both sides of the border was anything other than terrorism?
“How would he prefer to describe the murder of RAF Corporal Mick Islania and his six-month old baby daughter if not as the act of terrorists?”
However, a spokesperson for Sinn Fein said: “Sinn Fein will take no lectures from a man who has stated that, in his own words, he ‘didn’t really care either way’ if the bombs he ‘called in and guided to their targets’ had killed children in Afghanistan and whose party has acted as a cheerleader for discrimination, the actions of the B Specials, the RUC and the British Army in Ireland.”