22 September 2005

Adams calls for a united front


22/09/2005 - 19:33:31

Gerry Adams tonight urged republicans to stay united in the aftermath of imminent IRA disarmament.

With the destruction of all remaining Provo weapons dumps set to be confirmed, possibly within days, the Sinn Féin President accepted that some at grass roots level may still oppose the decommissioning strategy.

But as a row over witnesses to the process intensified, Mr Adams called for supporters to stand firm.

He said: “I would simply appeal for unity and for people to continue to show the type of discipline and commitment they have shown thus far.

“We believe, and I think its part of what we have been able to achieve as a leadership, in validating dissent.

“Republicanism has to be tolerant. Some people have fundamental disagreement with the way we are pursuing this strategy, and I think that’s okay.

“We are not leading sheep, we are leading proud activists who have been through an awful lot over the last 30 years or so.”

The Sinn Féin chief tonight addressed supporters in south Armagh ahead of a rally in the centre of Dublin on Saturday.

In between, Mr Adams will meet Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Dublin tomorrow, heightening the growing belief that the IRA is on the verge of delivering on its July 28 pledge to dump all arms after declaring an end to its campaign.

At tonight’s gathering in Mullaghbawn, he told around 70 party members that republicans and nationalists will have an unparalleled opportunity for major political advances once the IRA delivers on its peace pledges.

But Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionists, has accused the government of striking a clandestine deal to exclude his party’s demand for an independent Protestant clergyman to verify any disarmament.

Unconvinced by John de Chastelain, the retired Canadian general who will scrutinise decommissioning, Mr Paisley claimed the process was in disarray with the IRA making the rules.

After meeting new Political Development Minister David Hanson, he declared: “I believe they have entered into their secret agreement with the IRA.

“We warned the minister, don’t come afterwards and say: ‘Why is Ian Paisley raising this?’ We’re raising it now.”

Mr Adams hit back at the DUP complaints, claiming they never raised concerns earlier.

“It would be very, very difficult at any time to get the IRA to take on board DUP nominees,” he said.

“But we would do our best in all of that if the DUP were saying well if the IRA does this we’ll do something in return.”

He added: “Let’s have a bit of confidence in the de Chastelain Commission and whoever the witnesses are.

“I have every confidence in the IRA delivering on their commitments and let’s see how we can move all of this forward.

“It’s a bit rich when unionist paramilitaries are using heavy calibre shoulder weapons to shoot at British troops and PSNI officers – and profess to be loyalists – that the DUP should be concerned about IRA weapons which are silenced and which are going to be, we all hope and pray, put beyond use in the period ahead.”

During tomorrow’s talks in Dublin Mr Adams is due to renew his demands for the IRA killers of Garda Jerry McCabe to be freed.

Four republicans are serving jail sentences for the officer’s manslaughter during a robbery in Co Limerick in 1996.

Mr Adams said: “I’m mindful of the trauma for the McCabe family but the Supreme Court upheld the fact they were qualifying prisoners (under the Good Friday Agreement) and we will continue to campaign for their release.”

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