Time has come for an inquiry into Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein, and their relationships with the IRA: MLA

The UUP has said the time is right for an inquiry into Gerry Adams’ past dealings during the Troubles.

Thursday, 14th May 2020, 9:22 am
Updated Thursday, 14th May 2020, 10:30 am
Now-deceased former IRA leader Brendan 'The Dark' Hughes (right) with Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams when they were imprisoned in Long Kesh in the 1970s

MLA Doug Beattie was speaking as Gerry Adams’ only Troubles convictions – two counts of trying to escape from jail – were quashed by the UK Supreme Court.

The court found since the internment paperwork had not been handled by the correct government minister in the mid-1970s, his imprisonment was invalid – and therefore he could not be guilty of trying to escape “lawful custody”.

Mr Beattie said an inquiry “needs to focus on both him and Sinn Fein, and their relationship with the Provisional IRA”.

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Mr Beattie has long been outspoken against efforts to redirect the glare of public attention away from paramilitary groups and towards the errors and alleged wrongdoing of the state (despite the fact that paramilitaries carried out 90% of all Troubles killings).

He said yesterday: “If a change in policy is not forthcoming, we are in very real danger of allowing a false narrative to be accepted, in which those who... justified terrorism are rehabilitated as the good guys, whilst those who stood between the terrorists and the terrorised are portrayed as the villains of the piece.”

Meanwhile, party leader Steve Aiken MLA said the court judgment will leave IRA victims “dismayed”.

When it came to Mr Adams’ remarks about “principles of law”, he noted Mr Adams was happy to attend funerals of “psychopaths and mass murderers”.

These have ranged from inept Shankill bomber Thomas ‘Bootsy’ Begley to Martin McGuinness (the latter of whom he said “exemplified all that is decent and fair about our republican ideology”, and who never “abandoned his former comrades in the IRA”).

At last year’s funeral for ex-IRA leader Kevin McKenna, Mr Adams declared: “I think the IRA was right, not in everything that it did, but it was right to fight when faced with the armed aggression of British rule.”

Whilst he has consistently denied being a member of the IRA, Mr Adams has also said he has “never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will”.

According to the CAIN web archive, from 1969 to 2001 the IRA killed at least 1,700 people, with the biggest single group being civilians (a great many more deaths were attributed to splinter organisations or went ‘unclaimed’).

Mr Adams issued a statement yesterday suggesting his appeal could just be the beginning of legal proceedings regarding internment, saying there is “an onus on the British government to identify and inform other internees whose internment may also have been unlawful”.

Hailing the court’s unanimous decision, he said internment without trial had “set aside the normal principles of law and was based on a blunt and brutal piece of coercive legislation”.

TUV MLA Jim Allister said the court deliberations stand “in contrast with the countless innocent victims of the IRA, who never enjoyed a right of appeal against the summary decision of the IRA to murder them”.

He noted the IRA had in fact murdered many members of the UK judiciary which has now expunged his criminal record.

“Justice in any court this side of eternity is still denied for the vast majority of IRA victims,” he said.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said: “We note and respect the Supreme Court ruling that the then secretary of state did not follow the correct procedures for Gerry Adams’ Interim Custody Order. It is right that every democratic government is subject to the rule of law.

“Whatever this ruling might mean for Gerry Adams’ bank balance or his own conscience, the one thing no court can undo is the torment, heartache, bloodshed and broken homes caused by the PIRA in the 1970s.”

The judges who made yesterday’s ruling were Lord Kerr (who was Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland from 2004 to 2009) sitting alongside Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lord Kitchin and Lord Burnett.

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Alistair Bushe