Troubles amnesty debate in Parliament: ‘Gerry Adams denied being an IRA member but he clearly was’

Jim Shannon raised the issue of the attempt to bring a lawsuit against Gerry Adams over his alleged leadership of the IRA during the Commons debate on the government’s Troubles amnesty bill yesterday.

The news broke on Sunday that a trio of people who were wounded by IRA blasts were seeking token damages of £1 from Mr Adams, arguing that he is culpable for the mainland UK bombing campaign which injured them.

Mr Adams has always denied being in the IRA, and at the weekend the Daily Mail quoted an unnamed spokesman as saying: “Mr Adams rejects the claims made in the notice of legal action. His solicitor will deal with it.”

Adams at the funeral of IRA man Henry Hogan at Dunloy, 1984

Here is what DUP MP Mr Shannon said on the subject last night: “The minister will be aware of the victims involved in three cases:

“The Old Bailey bombing of 1973;

“The docklands bombing of 1996;

“And the Manchester bombing of 1996.

“Victims of those bombings are taking out an action against Gerry Adams – the man who said he was never a member of the IRA, although he clearly was.

“It is a civilian case and I know that the victims are seeking damages amounting to a nominal £1.

“If it is proved that Gerry Adams was responsible for those cases as a commander of the IRA, will the government make legal aid available to people who take action primarily against him, and also against the IRA and those who were responsible at that time?

“If the information is there and it is proven, can the bill make that happen? Will legal aid be available to those people?”

NIO minister Conor Burns responded: “The honourable gentleman probably anticipated my reply before he asked the question.

“It would be inappropriate for me to comment from the Dispatch Box on something that is, or may be, before the courts.

“However, the honourable gentleman has made his point powerfully, and he should address it to a law officer.”

Mr Shannon added: “The reason for my question is quite simple. I understand that the bill debars that from happening.

“If that is so, can the minister indicate to us on these benches whether those people have any chance of justice in relation to those three events?”

Mr Burns replied: “What we are talking about today is what is in the bill, what the bill will establish and how the body will work, and about the definitions, the powers, the functions, the independence, the appointment process and who will be on it.”

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