16 April 2005


Adams accuses minister of election interference

16/04/2005 - 11:55:14

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams today accused the Foreign Affairs Minister Dermot Ahern of interfering in the Westminster election campaign in Northern Ireland.

Mr Adams said he has made a formal written complaint to the Irish Government over the minister visiting Eddie McGrady of the SDLP in his south Down constituency earlier this week.

A spokesman for Mr Ahern said: “Gerry Adams and the provisional leadership at the current time have a lot of serious issues to address as distinct from whether Dermot Ahern visited south Down.”

He added: “Dermot Ahern as Minister for Foreign Affairs visited in a long standing arrangement and he has every intention of continuing his visits to the North.”

Mr Adams rejected any explanations from the Government that Mr Ahern was simply fulfilling a long-standing engagement.

“It’s obviously intervention and not just by Fianna Fáil but by the Government,” Mr Adams told BBC radio.

“I have protested formally to the Government over this. Now it is no surprise, at every single election, Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the PDs and the Labour Party have all come and campaigned on behalf of the SDLP.

“They’ve been in most of the constituencies. So that’s par for the course.”

However, he added: “What is new is that a minister would come in, as Dermot Ahern did, and I think he made a mistake and that he overstepped his responsibility.”

Meanwhile, Irish Labour Party leader Pat Rabbitte joined SDLP head Mark Durkan in Derry today to urge voters to ensure the politician takes a seat in the forthcoming British general election.

Both politicians told the people of Derry that a vote for SDLP meant choosing a party that was determined the Good Friday Agreement would be implemented in full.

“A vote for the SDLP keeps on the positive pressure that has moved the IRA more in the last seven weeks than in the last seven years,” the Foyle Westminster candidate said.

“It is a vote for decent peace, real progress and the whole Agreement. It is a stronger vote for a party that is stronger on the right issues, for the right reasons.”

Mr Rabbitte joined the politician on the campaign trail at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry as both parties belong to the Party of European Socialists.

Mr Durkan said the Labour leader stands strong with the SDLP for both Irish democracy and social justice.

He added: “We share a determination that the Good Friday Agreement will be implemented in full, so that we can get on with the work of delivering on jobs, healthcare, education and the environment – the issues that really matter to people across our island.”

He warned that politics will remain stuck in a rut if people stay home and do not vote.

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