Declassified files: Top Sinn Fein figure ‘broke down in tears and apologised’

A senior on the run republican apologised in tears to the then Alliance Party leader, according to a file declassified today.

Rita O’Hare pictured with Barack Obama and Gerry Adams
Rita O’Hare pictured with Barack Obama and Gerry Adams

The claim is made in a restricted memo from Veronica Sutherland, the British Ambassador to Dublin, which was sent to NIO officials on April 23, 1996.

The restricted document gave an account of an off the record meeting of EU ambassadors to Dublin.

The ambassador said that Alliance leader John Alderdice, who had been a speaker at the meeting, had “told me that he thought [Gerry] Adams had genuinely put violence behind him and wanted a settlement.

“He did not think this applied to Martin McGuinness whom he regarded as an evil man.

“Rita O’Hare had also put her past behind her, and had apologised to him in tears for Sinn Fein’s failure to sign up to consent in the Dublin Forum.”

Ms O’Hare has for decades been Sinn Fein’s representative in the US but is unable to return to the UK without being arrested in relation to an IRA attack.

Her comments appear to relate to the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin which met between 1994 and 1996.

At the time, Sinn Fein vociferously rejected the principle of consent and as late as 1998 Gerry Adams was rejecting it as the “unionist veto described euphemistically as ‘consent’”.

The ambassador’s memo also said: “Alderdice also believed that many of the unionists, and particularly John D Taylor, wanted compromise and a settlement soon.”

She added: “Finally, I asked him how he rated Bertie Ahern. He said he did not rate him at all [a section is then blacked out]”.