28 April 2005


Adams under attack for missing debate

28/04/2005 - 10:34:06

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams and Democratic Unionist Assembly member Diane Dodds were today under fire for failing to attend a debate with other west Belfast election candidates on paramilitaries.

Nationalist SDLP Assembly member Alex Attwood and Ulster Unionist councillor Chris McGimpsey rounded on their rivals over the no-show at the event in Belfast’s Europa Hotel.

Workers Party candidate John Lowry and Independent Liam Kennedy also took part during the breakfast debate.

However, the loyalist Progressive Unionist turned down an invitation.

Mrs Dodds had told the organisers that she could not attend because she was on a school run. But Mr McGimpsey said: “You would think that on this serious issue that the DUP candidate would be present, especially if she is claiming that she will be strong to unionism in West Belfast.”

Mr Attwood lambasted Gerry Adams for failing to respond to an invitation to debate IRA, other republican and loyalist punishment attacks and beatings and criminality.

“His non-attendance at the event would seem to be in line with his comment in Derry that criminality is not an issue in this election,” the West Belfast Assembly member said. “The reality is that it is very much an issue for voters and people in this election.”

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