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Gerry Adams at Leinster House today Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
Smithwick Tribunal

Gerry Adams insists IRA volunteers ‘were doing their duty as they saw it’

The Sinn Féin president has said the IRA members behind the killing of Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan were doing their duty in the same way as the RUC officers were doing theirs.

Updated 2.45pm

SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Gerry Adams has again defended his response to the Smithwick Tribunal report, insisting his comments were “accurate” and based on the report adding that it is “nonsense” to suggest he was blaming two RUC officers for their own deaths at the hands of the IRA.

Adams has been heavily criticised in recent days for suggesting that Harry Breen and Bob Buchanan had a “laissez faire” attitude towards their personal safety when they were murdered by the IRA in south Armagh 24 years ago.

“Read those parts of the report that deal with that and you’ll see that my remarks were accurate. But in terms of causing hurt, that was never my intention to cause hurt, I don’t need reminders from anyone that there are victims,” Adams said today at Leinster House.

He was responding to the death of Nelson Mandela who he described as a “remarkable human being” who was one of his heroes.

Adams dismissed as “nonsense” the suggestion that he was blaming the men for their own deaths, saying: “I mean that was never in question that the IRA killed them and it was a brutal killing, but it was in the middle of a war.

“I also have commended these officers, these RUC officers Buchanan and Breen as men who were doing their duty as they saw it, in the same way as it is my belief the IRA volunteers were doing their duty as they saw it.”

He said the people needed to stop “re-fighting the war”.

‘Re-fighting the war’

“We keep re-fighting the war and some people fight and re-fight the war at the behest of their editors and some people from the safety of the plinth or the seats in the Oireachtas. The war is over, we should be fighting for peace,” he said.

Asked if he thought that his use of the words “laissez faire” were wrong, Adams responded: “Well I am not going to be engaged now in a thesaurus discussion. I’ve made it clear that it was never my intention to cause offence or to hurt the families.”

Asked if he thought the IRA doing were their duty when they gunned down Harry Breen whilst, as one witness quoted in the report said, he was holding a white handkerchief, Adams said he was “not going to deal with that”.

“The war’s over. I made it clear that these officers were courageous officers doing their duty,” he said.

Dismissing questions about truth and honesty as “silliness”, Adams also questioned who had been hurt by his remarks when he was asked if he would withdraw them as they had caused hurt.

Micheál Martin

“Who was hurt? Micheál Martin?,” he said adding: “We can can go over this and over this and over this. I’ve already said it was not my intention to cause any further hurt to the families.”

“I stand over the accuracy of the fact that these officers were at risk, and I draw that from the report. I didn’t make it up. It’s in the report.”

Adams was also asked if he thought Sinn Féin’s support would be damaged by the events of recent days. He said he had “great confidence in the Irish people to discern these issues and to make up their own minds.

“Irish people are not fickle or stupid,” he said.

Responding to Adams’s comments this afternoon, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said that the Sinn Féin TD should withdraw them, saying they reflect “very badly” on him.

“I just felt that it was a terrible thing to say, a terrible way to put it and I wanted to just reiterate, on the floor of the house, that this was a premeditated murder of two police officers doing their duty,” he said.

First published 1.08pm

Gerry Adams: ‘Laissez faire’ comments reflect what is recorded by Smithwick Tribunal

Read: ‘Insulting, offensive, quite outrageous’: Sinn Féin criticised over Smithwick response

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