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Arlene Foster says Sinn Féin's 'glorification of terrorism' isn't helpful

Gerry Adams rejected the assertion of the DUP leader.

NI powersharing talks DUP leader Arlene Foster leaving Downing Street today. Source: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images

DUP LEADER ARLENE Foster has said that “the glorification of terrorism” by Sinn Féin is hindering negotiations on a new Stormont executive.

Negotiating teams from both the DUP and Sinn Féin were meeting separately with British Prime Minister Theresa May today and briefed journalists outside 10 Downing Street afterwards.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams rejected Foster’s claim and said she was attempting to find an excuse not to strike a deal. Adams instead pointed to the DUP’s refusal to sign up to rights-based assurances including legislation to promote the use of the Irish language.

He also expressed concern about what he described as “an amnesty for British Crown forces” that is being pushed by some MPs.

Amnesty International has also hit out at any possible “blanket amnesty for human rights abuses”.

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Northern Ireland’s power-sharing assembly has been vacant since January after a bitter row between Sinn Féin and the DUP over the “cash-for-ash” scandal.

An assembly election in March saw Sinn Féin gain significant ground on the DUP but Foster’s party remains the largest party at Stormont.

Efforts to reach agreement between the two parties have so far been unsuccessful and today’s visit by both to Westminster was part of an effort to kickstart the talks.

WhatsApp Image 2017-11-17 at 22.27.54 Merchandise for sale at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis. Source: TheJournal.ie/ChristinaFinn


Speaking on Downing Street after the talks, Foster told reporters that the cheering of the IRA at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis has not been helpful.

“Of course our preference is devolution and has been since the March election, we were not the ones who brought devolution down but we did say to the Prime Minister that the glorification of terrorism at the weekend at the Sinn Féin conference was making it more difficult to bring around devolution,” she said.

It was quite disgraceful to look at the glorification that happened at the weekend of IRA terrorism, and of course that makes it more difficult for us. But we are committed to devolution and we want to see it working, and we will continue to work at it.

At the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, it was reported that delegates cheered loudly when the late Martin McGuinness’ IRA past was mentioned.

Reacting to Foster’s claims, RTÉ News reports that Adams said no such glorification happened at the Ard Fheis.

“I didn’t see any glorification of anyone at the Ard Fheis. I also, standing outside the office of the British Prime Minister, want to refute the use of this term ‘terrorism’,” Adams said.

Pejorative terms like that, which are about the sons and daughters of families, husbands and wives of families, who happened to serve in the Irish Republican Army and who died in the conflict, I don’t use those terms.

Instead, Adams said that the British government acted in “bad faith” in attempting to add a new section to the 2014 Stormont House Agreement that would give an amnesty to British forces for offences during the Troubles.

“We understand that there’s a new section, which is an amnesty for British Crown forces, and that is an act of bad faith. We weren’t told this, we understand the Irish government weren’t told this,” Adams said.

So how on earth can a British Prime Minister hope to persuade anybody that there’s the possibility of a new disposition emerging when she takes up this position and when her Secretary of State takes us this position also?

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Sky News also reports that Adams said that the Prime Minister Theresa May has not helped the situation by entering into a voting arrangement with the DUP at Westminster.

“We told the British Prime Minister that she is very complicit with the way the DUP doesn’t embrace these rights and we are concerned with her pact with the DUP and about her concern for her own political survival,” Adams said.

At Sinn Féin’s Ard Fheis, Adams announced that he would be stepping down as leader next year.

Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald is seen as the overwhelming favourite to replace him as leader and she joined Adams on the steps of Westminster along with four other Sinn Féin MLAs today.

NI powersharing talks (L to R) Elisha McCallion, Conor Murphy, Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald, Chris Hazzard and Michelle O'Neill. Source: Dominic Lipinski/PA Images

Reacting to Sinn Féin’s raising of the issue of what Adams called  “an amnesty for British Crown forces”,  Patrick Corrigan of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland said any such proposal would represent “a betrayal of victims”.

“Such a move would in effect be the granting of a blanket amnesty for human rights abuses committed by former members of the security forces in Northern Ireland and would be an utter betrayal of victims’ fundamental right to justice,” he said.

“Any such move by the UK government would fly in the face of international human rights standards and perpetuate impunity.”


Read: Two of Mary Lou’s potential rivals have ruled themselves out of the SF leadership race >

Read: Gerry Adams announces he is to step down as Sinn Féín president next year >

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Rónán Duffy

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