Ex-Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams' claim that IRA 'could have continued forever' rubbished by range of commentators

A wide range of commentators have firmly rejected Gerry Adam's claims that the IRA "could have continued forever" if not for the political peace process.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Speaking to the BBC while reflecting on 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA), Mr Adams said that it was only after David Trimble's death last year that he realised how "brave" the UUP leader had been in arguing for the peace deal.

But he also claimed: "We realised that the IRA could have continued forever, because it had the base of support that it had, and it had obviously the capacity."

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

However, former IRA prisoner turned academic and blogger Anthony McIntyre rejected the claim. "It could have gone on forever as a tradition but not as an effective fighting force," he told the News Letter.

Former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams at the funeral of David Trimble last year.Former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams at the funeral of David Trimble last year.
Former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams at the funeral of David Trimble last year.

He said the IRA was “diminishing” due to “an inability for its political wing to reach beyond a certain ceiling; penetration and surveillance; war weariness; dwindling enthusiasm within the community for the never ending conflict and threat from loyalism”.

The IRA campaign secured no advance on the Sunningdale Agreement in 1974 and republicans "should have called it a day" at that time, he added.

Former Special Branch Detective Inspector William Matchett said the terror group "could not have gone on another 18-months never mind forever".

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He added: "They were rapidly running out of their most precious resource - volunteers. Even the last properly functional ‘brigade’ in South Armagh was, with the sniper team, caught red handed by the SAS in an intelligence-led operation. And this ‘brigade’ was crucial to planting bombs in London."

Kenny Donaldson, Director of Services with victims group the South East Fermanagh Foundation, said Mr Adam's claim would be viewed by terror victims as "boastful and deeply insulting".

He added: "Isn't it incredible that on the 25th Anniversary of The Belfast Agreement and at such a sensitive time, the best Mr Adams can offer is this goading claim. Where is the leadership? Where is the contrition for all the violence?"

Commentator Alex Kane, a former Director of Communications with the UUP, said that increasing numbers of Sinn Fein voters "wanted to prioritise politics over semtex" in 1998.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The IRA couldn't have gone on forever because it's now a pretty well established fact that they had been infiltrated for years and were having more and more operations interrupted,” he said.

"Anyway, after the Omagh Bomb and 9/11 there was no way any US administration would have tolerated an armed and active IRA any more."

East Londonderry DUP MP Gregory Campbell responded that the IRA was "riddled with informers" and that Mr Adams' claim that it could have continued forever is "republican revisionism aimed at airbrushing their own embarrassment".

He added: "We know that individuals such as Denis Donaldson and Freddie Scappaticci and others were senior figures working for the intelligence services." Some estimates put the number of IRA informants in Belfast alone at 100, he added.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

UUP peer Lord Reg Empey, who was a member of the Policing Authority in 1998, agreed that the IRA was "severely degraded" by infiltration from police and the security service at that time.

Nationalist members of the community were “progressively fed up with violence” while loyalists were becoming "more aggressive".

A combination of all these factors forced republicans to the negotiating table, he said.

"So I don't accept his analysis at all,” he said of Mr Adams.