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Gerry Adams's gunpoint comments 'a barely concealed threat to the modern media'

The Sinn Féin president will not withdraw remarks made at a fundraising dinner in New York last week.

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated 3.43pm

SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Gerry Adams is standing by his controversial comments at an event in New York last week in the face of criticism from media and journalism representative groups.

Speaking at a Friends of Sinn Féin fundraising dinner in the US last week, Adams described how Michael Collins dealt with critical press coverage from Independent Newspapers by holding the editor at gunpoint and dismantling printing presses.

His comments have been condemned by two senior ministers today with the Tánaiste Joan Burton telling the Dáil that they represented “a barely concealed threat to the modern media of the consequences of interfering with powerful men”.

Adams told the audience at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan last Friday: “Mick Collins’ response to the Independent’s criticism of the fight for freedom was to dispatch volunteers to the Independent’s offices.

“They held the editor at gunpoint and then dismantled and destroyed the entire printing machinery! Now I’m obviously not advocating that…”

The remarks prompted laughter from the audience and have been widely criticised in recent days, including by the National Union of Journalists.

This morning, the Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said that Adams’s remarks were “abhorrent”.

“It is abhorrent to use imagery like that in this day and age. This is a democracy and we use democratic means to deal with issues,” she told reporters in Dublin.

The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers, which represents 18,000 publications in more than 120 countries, has now called on him to withdraw the remarks.

But in a short statement issued last night, Adams said he would not be withdrawing the comments.

“I have no intention of withdrawing my remarks. They were simply referencing a historical fact,” he said.

“I was highlighting the hypocrisy of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail leaders who hale [sic] IRA leader Michael Collins as some Gandhi-like figure while condemning modern republicans such Bobby Sands, Mairead Farrell, or Maire Drumm as ‘terrorists’.

He said that anyone who read the script for the speech will “understand the absurdity of the Independent Group’s campaign,” referring to the Irish Independent and Sunday Independent’s focus on his comments in recent days.

The Sunday Independent described Adams’s remarks as a “sick joke” over the weekend.

Read: “Absolutely pathetic” – Sinn Féin hits back at criticism over $500 dinner

Read: Here’s what we know about Sinn Féin’s $500-a-plate New York dinner

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Hugh O'Connell

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