SINN FÉIN HAS been heavily criticised over remarks by its president Gerry Adams and its justice spokesperson Padraig MacLochlainn in relation to the Smithwick Tribunal report over the last 24 hours.
Adams has come under pressure over comments he made on Newstalk yesterday in which he said that two RUC officers, shot dead by the IRA 24 years ago, had a “laissez faire” attitude shown towards their security.
The Smithwick Tribunal report, published on Tuesday, found that collusion between members of An Garda Síochána and the Provisional IRA took place in the killing of two senior RUC officers, Harry Breen and Pat Buchanan, after they left a Dundalk Garda station on 20 March 1989
Speaking on Tonight with Vincent Browne last night, a lawyer for the Breen family, criticised Adams’s comments. John McBurney said the remarks were “insulting” and “offensive” and “quite outrageous”.
McBurney with MacLochlainn on Tonight with Vincent Browne. Screengrab via TV3.
But MacLochlainn came to defence of Adams, saying that the IRA members who shot Breen and Buchanan “had a duty as much as Michael Collins and the IRA of the War of Independence, as much as Padraig Pearse and James Connolly.”
He said they “had a right to take a war in the absence of political leadership” and said this was “the context” in which the murders in Dundalk happened.
MacLochlainn said the “RUC were a sectarian, orange state enforcer” and that it was “a war situation” that was “tragically the same as the old IRA who killed almost 500 RIC (Royal Irish Constabulary) members in the War of Independence.”
MacLochlainn with Flanagan on Tonight with Vincent Browne. Screengrab via TV3.
On the same programme, Fine Gael chairman Charlie Flanagan said Adams remarks were “quite contemptible” and said that MacLochlainn should distance himself from the comments, describing his defence of them as “outrageous”.
He said Adams’s comments had shown that “nothing had changed”.
MacLochlainn criticised Flanagan pointing to violence perpetrated by Michael Collins, the man considered to be the founding father of the Fine Gael movement.
He told Flanagan directly: “You would tell the Irish people that Gandhi and Martin Luther King founded your party.”
MacLochlainn said that Martin Luther King and Gandhi had advocated non-violence where as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil had been born out of violence.
On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland MacLochlainn again defended Adams’s comments, refusing to say if his party president should withdraw the remarks.
He said that the report of the Smithwick Tribunal is a “disputed report” and that Adams had given an analysis of it.
On the same programme, the president of the Superintendents’ Association of Northern Ireland, Nigel Grimshaw, said that Adams’s comments were insensitive and insulting to the families of the two men”.