Gerry Adams can ‘leave positive legacy’, says sister of murdered unionist lawyer

Anne, sister of Edgar Graham, during an act of remembrance in December 2018 on the 35th Anniversary of the lawyer's murder. 'Photo: Pacemaker
Anne, sister of Edgar Graham, during an act of remembrance in December 2018 on the 35th Anniversary of the lawyer's murder. 'Photo: Pacemaker
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The sister of a unionist lawyer murdered by the IRA has urged Gerry Adams to create a positive legacy for himself by acknowledging that the campaign of republican violence was “wrong”.

Law lecturer and unionist politician Edgar Graham, 29, was shot in the back of the head by an IRA gunman outside Queen’s University Belfast in December 1983 - just three weeks after Mr Adams became president of Sinn Fein.

Edgar Graham, unionist politician and Queen's University lecturer, shot dead at point blank range by the IRA in December 1983 near the university.

Edgar Graham, unionist politician and Queen's University lecturer, shot dead at point blank range by the IRA in December 1983 near the university.

Anne Graham was commenting after a BBC Spotlight documentary earlier this week claimed to have unearthed a secret intelligence summary from the time – that said the murder would have been sanctioned at the highest level of IRA and “almost certainly by Adams”.

Mr Adams, who stood down as Sinn Fein president in February last year, has consistently denied that he was ever a member of the IRA, but has also said he will never “disassociate” himself from the organisation.

Ms Graham said she “doesn’t waste her time” pondering whether Mr Adams was in the IRA, but said his status as a leading republican could be used to help end the recurring cycle of violence.

She said the content of the documentary – Spotlight on the Troubles: A Secret History – “did not come as a shock” to her.

“I do not waste my time considering the conundrum whether or not Mr Adams was in the IRA,” Ms Graham said.

“Clearly he had significant influence or he would not have represented their position so often. People and politicians today have the potential to draw a line under all this to stop the suffering going on to blight more generations.”

In a direct appeal to the former Sinn Fein president Ms Graham said: “Mr Adams – let your legacy be a positive one. Do the right thing and break the cycle of violence by acknowledging it was wrong. The British government has done much apologizing and the British justice system has also delivered justice albeit belatedly. It’s your turn now.”

No one has ever been convicted in relation to the murder of Edgar Graham.

In the Spotlight programme, the presenter states: “We have obtained an intelligence summary from the time. It gives no evidence but sheds light on how some understood the IRA to operate, and says knowledge of the operation would have been restricted and cleared at the highest level, almost certainly by Adams.”

In response to Ms Graham’s plea, Gerry Adams told the News Letter: “The claim in the BBC programme, based on an anonymous British source, is untrue.

“During the negotiations at Stormont House several years ago I negotiated with the British government the mechanisms to deal with legacy issues. The British government has not implemented these.

“Republicans have acknowledged many times the hurt they inflicted during the conflict. This may not be enough for victims like Edgar Graham’s family and I accept that.”

He also said: “I have expressed my personal and sincere regret and apologised for the hurt which republicans have caused. The IRA is gone.

“The peace process and the Good Friday Agreement have provided a democratic, non-violent means to resolve outstanding differences and are about ending the cycle of violence that has bedevilled Ireland for centuries.”

The Louth TD added: “The war is over. There is an onus on all of us to ensure that the conditions which gave rise to violence are never allowed to fester again.

“That is my focus and the focus of all sensible people.”

In October 2018, Anne Graham challenged the Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill about her brother’s murder.

Following an event at Queen’s, Ms Graham addressed Ms O’Neill directly, saying: “To me murder is murder and how can I respect you when you fail to condemn my brother’s murder?”

Ms O’Neill responded, by saying she was trying to ensure that “no young person ever has to fight the battles that we fought in the past.”