18 January 2006

Adams denies unmasked spy damaged his leadersh

IOL

**I'm so glad it's all just 'tittle-tattle'!

18/01/2006 - 12:44:17

Image Hosted by ImageShack.usSinn Féin leader Gerry Adams denied today that his leadership was damaged by sensational claims before Christmas that a trusted aide was spying on him and his colleagues, but has said "you are going to hear more of this" in the future.

After meeting a delegation of US Congressmen, Mr Adams dismissed as tittle-tattle speculation that other senior republicans would be unmasked as British spies following the revelation that Sinn Féin’s head of administration Denis Donaldson was working for military intelligence.

He did not rule out the possibility that there would be more unsettling allegations to come.

The West Belfast MP said: “No (the Sinn Féin leadership has not been damaged).

“There is tittle-tattle in all of the papers.

“I am all the time in my gentle way lecturing you on responsibilities of the media.

“All of this is a nonsense. It is part of what happens in a process where society is in transition and our job is to take that society collectively through that process.”

Denis Donaldson was one of three republicans accused in October 2002 of operating a spy ring at Stormont which went into the heart of the then Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid's office.

With his son-in-law Ciaran Kearney and civil servant William Mackessy, he was caught in a three-year legal battle to clear their names.

However, last month the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland dramatically withdrew the charges at Belfast Crown Court, saying it was no longer in the public interest to pursue the case.

In a further sensational twist, Mr Adams within a week announced that Mr Donaldson was expelled from the party after admitting to colleagues that he had been spying on them for two decades.

The former prisoner and close friend of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands appeared on Irish television reading a statement confessing his role as a police and British army agent.

Since then there has been a flurry of speculation about other senior republicans, including Sinn Féin members who it is alleged also operated as spies within the movement.

Mr Adams today insisted the only turbulence in the republican ranks had been caused not by the spy scandal but by the IRA’s dramatic moves last July to end its armed campaign and destroy its weapons.

Thinking republicans, he said, were resigned to the fact that there were always spies in struggles such as the one in Northern Ireland.

The Sinn Féin leader said he had every confidence in his party’s negotiating team despite the revelation that Mr Donaldson was a spy.

“Anyway what more is there to negotiate about?” the West Belfast MP asked.

“The negotiations are done. What more is there to negotiate about?

“We have had seven years, eight years, nine years, 10 years of negotiations. What we now need to see is delivery of all of the agreements that were reached, crystallised in the Good Friday Agreement.

“All of these other issues are very much a distraction. By the way, you are going to hear more of this.

“You are going to get more alleged agents or real agents being trotted out in the time ahead.

“You are going to get more efforts by dissident elements within the British system to stop progress.

“You are going to get this seized upon by the DUP and others who are afraid of a future based on equality. What we have to be is tenacious, resilient and patient about moving all of this forward.”

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