THE SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Gerry Adams has faced criticism from the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin over his response to the Smithwick Tribunal report and comments he made in an interview this morning.
Adams told Newstalk earlier that two RUC officers murdered by the IRA had shown disregard for their own safety when travelling to Dundalk in 1989 following the publication of the Smithwick report yesterday.
At Leaders’ Questions, Micheál Martin raised Adams’s remarks in the context of the report, which found that there was collusion between the IRA and someone in the gardaí which led to the murders of RUC officers Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan, and criticised Adams’s remarks.
He described the Sinn Féin TD’s statements as “incredible” and called on Adams to apologise to the families “on behalf of that so-called Republican movement”.
“This type of language displays their ongoing Widgery approach… to whitewash past atrocities,” Martin said alluding to the discredited report of John Widgery into the events of Bloody Sunday.
Later, Gerry Adams did not withdraw or backtrack on his comments on Newstalk, or ‘Newsweek’ as he referred to it, saying that all the main parties came from “a period of armed resistance”.
He said he did not “need reminders that at the heart [of this case] are two bereaved families” and said: “These were brave officers doing their duty as they saw it, in the same way as the IRA volunteers would see themselves as doing their duty as they saw it.”
‘No hierarchy of victims’
He said that “there is no hierarchy of victims” and called on the Irish government to increase its lobbying of the British government to honour its commitments in the Weston Park Agreement.
Gilmore criticised Adams, saying: “I don’t think you do yourself, your party, or the peace process any service today by saying what you have said.”
Martin said that the Smithwick report showed that there had been a “terrible betrayal of an Garda Siochána” by officers involved in collusion and also pressed Gilmore on the Weston Park issue.
In a lengthy statement, Gilmore said that he is “appalled and saddened” at findings of the Smithwick Tribunal report and repeated the apology on behalf of the government.
Gardaí will view the actions detailed in the report as “betrayal of the values they hold” he said, adding that current cross-border cooperation between the gardaí and the PSNI is now “second-to-none”.
The Tánaiste said the government will continue to pursue the case of Pat Finucane with the British government and said that the Smithwick Tribunal’s completion “will, if anything, strengthen our position”.
He later added: “I can’t get out of my mind the image of one of those men, injured, waving his white handkerchief, being shot in the head by an IRA activist.”
Gilmore also said that today is “not a day for muddying the waters, not a day for pulling this report apart or finding a flaw in it”.