Gerry Adams The Michael Reade Show LMFM Radio 15 February 2019

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The Michael Reade Show
LMFM Radio 98.5

Michael Reade speaks to Gerry Adams, Louth TD and former president of Sinn Féin, about yesterday’s programme during which Independent Louth TD Peter Fitzpatrick discussed the questions he asked Garda Commissioner Drew Harris at the 13 February 2019 Justice Committee meeting at Leinster House concerning the 1991 murder of Co. Louth farmer Tom Oliver. (begins time stamp ~49:33)

Michael:   The Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, says he met with the family of Cooley sheep farmer, Tom Oliver, who was executed by the IRA in 1991. In 2012 Mr. Harris gave evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal when he was Deputy Chief Constable of the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland). Harris told the Tribunal that a senior member of the Provisional IRA directed that Tom Oliver would be killed. He was asked if he knew who gave the order and if he had informed the Gardaí. Harris said he had and wrote the name of the IRA man down and gave it to Judge Peter Smithwick. Tom Oliver’s family wants to know who that person is and what is being done to investigate the murder. Yesterday, Independent TD Peter Fitzpatrick told this programme that Gerry Adams was in the Cooleys in 1991. He said Adams has been asked if he was involved and was in fact the court of appeal that said that Oliver should go to his death by RTÉ. And Fitzpatrick said Adams now needs to clear his name.

Audio:   Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick speaking on the programme on 14 February 2019:

…if I was Gerry Adams and – if you go back to Prime Time back in 2015, Miriam O’Callaghan, when she was interviewing Gerry Adams, first of all he wouldn’t answer any of the questions she was asking him – but he has an opportunity, now, of clearing his name because if you go back to the time Tom Oliver was murdered, in the 18th-19th July in 1991, it just happened that Gerry Adams happened to be in the Cooley area.

Sinn Féin TD Gerry Adams joins us now and Good Morning! to you and thank you indeed for joining us. Do you believe the name Drew Harris gave to Peter Smithwick, the person the Garda Commissioner believes to have ordered the execution of Tom Oliver, the name he gave to a statutory tribunal was ‘Gerry Adams’?


Gerry Adams
Source: Oireachtas

No, I don’t think so. I don’t know – that’s the God’s honest truth. But that’s, let me if I may, start my remarks by saying I’m very, very conscious of the grievous loss suffered by Tom Oliver’s family. I’m very, very conscious that they want answers to questions and I think they should have those answers to questions. But the reason I’m on this programme and I haven’t been on the programme for some time because as you know I stood down as Uachtarán of Sinn Féin and Mary Lou McDonald is doing that job now and she has my full support and I’m honoured to serve the people of Louth but I will not be standing for the next election. Ruairí Ó Murchú and my friend, Amelda Munster, will be standing for our party in this constituency so I’ve been doing less interviews. So why have I come on to do this interview? I’ve come on to do this interview because Peter Fitzpatrick is selective, is cynical and he is an exploiter of some deaths that have occurred. I support all the families, all the victim’s families, whatever their particular search is – some want different outcomes, some have different views – for example you know, the Oliver Family and in terms of what they need should be given what they need so should the family of Seamus Ludlow, so should the family the two men, Huge Watters and Jack Rooney, who were killed in Kay’s Tavern – all of those families, I just mentioned some – all deserve our support and I give them my support and Sinn Féin gives them our support. But for Peter Fitzpatrick to come on and say that I should clear my name I find that absolutely shameful and cynical and opportunistic.

Michael:  Do you believe that there is reason to ask you if the name Drew Harris gave to Peter Smithwick was ‘Gerry Adams’?

Gerry:   None whatsoever. None whatsoever.

Michael:  Peter Fitzpatrick mentioned that you were in the Cooleys at the time that Tom Oliver was killed.

Gerry:  (scoffs) Oh, so that’s a crime? That’s an offence? That makes me a suspect? Look, this guy’s been – this is the man who joined Fine Gael as a career move and has now left Fine Gael…

Michael:  …He also…

Gerry:  …and he didn’t. Sorry. Let me finish. He didn’t leave Fine Gael because of the crisis in the health services, because of the crisis in homelessness, because of the various scandals that have ripped this government – he left Fine Gael because he thought he wasn’t going to get selected in the election convention. So it’s no secret I have written – people know me. My family rented a house in The Cooleys for ages. For ages. I regularly walk there – I’ll be there later today, incidentally. I’m regularly – and I’m proud to represent the people of that peninsula along with the rest of the constituency. So here were are having a discussion about a deadly serious issue, about the loss of a man’s life, and it has turned into this inquisition on the basis of Peter Fitzpatrick simply trying to grandstand at a Justice Committee meeting in Leinster House.

Michael:  Well, Peter Fitzpatrick yesterday on this programme referenced the interview that you gave to Miriam O’Callaghan on Prime Time television when she asked you if you were the court of appeal that said that Tom Oliver should go to his death. You took exception being asked that but she said to you that it was widely believed by members of his family that there were questions to be asked of you. And in June of last year, Ed Moloney reported on the interaction which happened behind closed doors, I understand it, between Drew Harris as a representative of the PSNI giving evidence to the Smithwick Tribunal, and he suggests that the reason that Miriam O’Callaghan asked you those questions was because it was your name that Drew Harris gave to Judge Smithwick.

Gerry:   Well, none of that – well you know, Drew Harris now the Garda Commissioner. He’s a former PSNI Assistant Chief Constable. He’s a former senior RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) officer. I met him briefly at the First Dáil Commemoration a month or so ago and wished him well in his new role. He’s in a very unique on all these issues. He’s in a very unique, for example, in relation to the Glenanne Gang who, you may know, was responsible for the Dublin-Monaghan bombings, for the attack at Kay’s Tavern and the murder of Seamus Ludlow. Now, I want to see Peter Fitzpatrick taking the same focus on all these other killings as he does in terms of making these totally unfounded and malicious allegations against me. Drew Harris is in a unique position, a unique position, to bring the perpetrators to book…

Michael:  …Okay…

Gerry:  …to bring them to justice and secondly, he’s also in a very, very unique position to give the various inquiries that have been set up over the years, from Barron right through, and we know that the British are refusing to hand over information – well, if anybody has that information it’s Drew Harris!

Michael:  Okay, but I’m sure you’ll agree, Gerry Adams, that both Ed Moloney and Miriam O’Callaghan are very respected and credible journalists. Both of the journalists appear to be of the impression that the name Drew Harris gave to Peter Smithwick was ‘Gerry Adams’. You say that you don’t believe that to be the case. We’ve heard from the family of Tom Oliver and they have a question for you if I may put that to you because the Garda Commissioner Harris knows the name of the IRA man who ordered the murder of Tom Oliver. (At least he believes he knows the person who did it.) And the family want to ask you, Gerry Adams, if it’s not Gerry Adams do you know the name of the Army Council member that gave to go-ahead to kill Tom Oliver?

Gerry:   No, I don’t know. I don’t know anyone who’s involved in this unfortunate man’s killing or any of the events which led to it. I know it wasn’t me. I find it exceptional that you should be asking me questions based upon nothing. Based upon someone – and I don’t consider Ed Moloney to be a reputable journalist (whatever about Miriam O’Callaghan) – based on them being able to see into Drew Harris’ mind. Let’s stop playing games…

Michael:  … (crosstalk) Well, I think without playing games it’s an opportunity to give you a right to reply given that an independent TD said on this programme yesterday that this was an opportunity for you to clear your name and we are, I hope, giving you an opportunity to respond to that and to that question that I put to you from the Oliver Family. As I said, they have been in touch with us.

Gerry:   You also said, if my transcript of your interview is correct, it says: Michael Reade: Sinn Féin don’t want this murder investigated. Gerry Adams said it would be unhelpful to have it investigated as president of Sinn Féin.

Sinn Féin want all of these murders, all of these attacks and killings investigated in terms which the families desire. I never said what you accused me of saying.

Michael:   Okay. Well, your transcript is correct and that is exactly what I said and I accept what you’re saying now, yes.

Gerry:   And would you like to withdraw that, then, Michael?

Michael:   Yes, absolutely. If you’re saying that’s not the case and you would like it investigated of course I’ll accept that.

Gerry:  Yes, and we’re very, very clear about this. We signed up for a process and even though the Executive is down in The North this does not prevent the process from proceeding and that is a process which both governments were to establish for the independent scrutiny, review, investigation, of all of the killings. There was to be new bodies to be established – the Independent Commission on Information Retrieval – there was to be an implementation and reconciliation group established to find, bring people the type of closure which they desire and in the course of that, we also signed up for – if that’s what families want, for court cases or for investigation by, live investigation, by either An Garda Síochána or the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) – now that’s the Sinn Féin position, that’s my position – I was part of that process of putting that together. So it’s absolutely ridiculous and I find it deeply offensive that these type of charges can be flung around by the likes of Peter Fitzpatrick who’s only interested in trying to score points off Sinn Féin (inaudible).

Michael:   And you understand legacy issues probably better than most people, Gerry Adams, and you understand how families are left asking questions and they would like those questions answered. You’ve said you don’t know anything about the circumstances that led to the death of Tom Oliver or about what occurred there. And I take it that will mean that you won’t be able to answer this next question, it’s the second and last question that we have from the family for you, plus I understand you won’t be able to answer it. I’d like, on behalf of the family, to say what they’ve looked for answers to – they say that the Commissioner said that several Provisional IRA members and others requested that Tom Oliver not be killed and the family would like to know why did the senior IRA member go against that and were there any any local IRA members present? Now, I’m not sure if you want to address that in any way now.

Gerry:   Well, I have no information on any of that.

Michael:   Okay. Can I ask you about the appointment of Drew Harris? Because Mr. Harris is somebody who, as the Deputy Chief Constable who ordered you arrest which could have been viewed as political policing at the time of an election, in relation to the killing of Jean McConville. Do you support his appointment?

Gerry:  Yes. You know, I’ve – my arrest was a political arrest. I took exception of that, to that, at the time. But that’s over. You know, the man has a job to do. It’s our responsibility to hold him to account. That’s what he was doing at the Justice Committee – being held to account. I want to ask him a series of questions. I’m meeting An Garda Síochána here, and I’m in Dundalk at the moment – I’m actually just across the street from Kay’s Tavern – but I meet An Garda Síochána here about current issues. We have big issues here in relation to families being intimidated by drugs gangs who are holding families to account for debts incurred by their addict relatives and that’s really a serious case – that’s ongoing with a whole range of other contemporary (inaudible) issues as well as these legacy issues. I met Pat Finucane’s family on Sunday. You’ll know that Pat was a human rights lawyer.

Source: The Broken Elbow

You’ll also know that it was revealed the other day that the PSNI had withheld information to the Police Ombudsman in The North on a whole series of very, very serious incidents including the killing of Sinn Féin member Eddie Fullerton and others. I met the family of Seamus Ludlow two weeks ago in the Dáil – and here is a case of a Co. Louth man who was killed and the Barron Commission, which was established, was in no doubt about what was involved where it said the Glenanne Gang, who I mentioned earlier, were responsible for what it described as acts of international terrorism colluded in by the British security forces and it asked for an individual public inquiry into the killing of Seamus Ludlow and the subsequent handling of his case by An Garda Síochána and the government’s refusal to give the family that though that’s the…

Michael:   …and the behaviour of the Cosgrave government at the time – I’m sure there’s many questions. But just to conclude…

Gerry:  …No, no, no but see – here’s the thing about all of this…

Michael:  …Yeah…

Gerry:   …as this interview proves, that might have been the Cosgrave government but Charlie Flanagan’s still refusing to give the Ludlow Family the type of inquiry that they’re looking for. Charlie Flanagan is refusing to lift the lid on the Crevan Mackin scandal – a man who we know killed himself, killed Garda Tony Golden, seriously wounded Siobhán Phillips and, in my belief, was at that time a paid agent of An Garda Síochána…

Michael:  …Okay..

Gerry:   …Charlie Flanagan. So these events, while they may have happened a few years ago or a lot of years ago, when the government of the day refuses to give families – we saw the same, I watched Prime Time last night with Shane O’Farrell’s mother, a wonderful woman, who has pursued justice for her son relentlessly so…

Michael:  …and a case that you pushed to the highest level and brought to the Dáil many times and forced a meeting between the family and Enda Kenny if I remember. But just in terms of this question: You’ve faced down questions of this sort many times over many years, Gerry Adams, and undoubtedly you’ll face this one down but you know the cycle of news and how this will get legs now and so on. Would it be helpful if Drew Harris was to put this to bed? He’s the only person who can put it to bed. Would you ask him to make an unequivocal statement that the name he gave to Judge Smithwick was not ‘Gerry Adams’?

Gerry:  That’s a matter for him. I’m not going to interfere with him in terms of the operation and responsibilities that he has. I know it wasn’t me so that’s – I’m content in my own skin on this issue. And this isn’t a matter of me facing down questions, Michael. At the heart of all of this, and I repeat it, in all of these cases that just become part of the news cycle are families which are grieving, families who are getting older, families who want the truth – all of us have a responsibility to give families the truth. Part of giving families the truth would be to stop telling the type of untruthful assertions that we hear from the likes of Peter Fitzpatrick.

Michael:  Okay. Thank you very much, indeed, for taking our questions this morning and for joining us for that matter. That’s Sinn Féin TD for Louth – Gerry Adams. (ends time stamp ~ 1:07:53)

Gerry Adams The Andrew Marr Show BBC One 4 February 2018

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The Andrew Marr Show

Andrew Marr sat down with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams last week in Dundalk and talked about the future of Sinn Féin, Brexit and Irish unity.

Andrew:   Now then, few political lives divide opinion like Gerry Adams. For some, he’s a man of blood who defended many IRA atrocities during The Troubles in Northern Ireland. To others, he’s a courageous peacemaker who was instrumental in the Good Friday Agreement twenty years ago. After thirty-five years as president of Sinn Féin Mr. Adams is standing down this month and handing over to a new generation of Republican leaders. I sat down with him last week in Dundalk near the Irish border to reflect on his life campaigning for a united Ireland. I began by asking him whether he had failed in that endeavour?

Gerry:  No, because when I joined Sinn Féin, which was over fifty years ago, it was banned, it was outlawed. There was no prospect, really, of a strategy for Irish unity. If I look back now, a half a million people vote for Sinn Féin. We’re the second largest party in The North. There’s now a peaceful way to get Irish unity.

Andrew:  Your old comrade, Martin McGuinness, never saw it. Do you think you’ll see it?

Gerry:    Yes, if I live long enough and you know, with Martin’s passing, I suppose, proves to all of us that you can’t be certain about anything. You know Martin – I miss Martin every single – day so, is an Irish Republic, is Irish unity inevitable? No, it isn’t. It’s only going to happen if we work at it. I come from a very, very straightforward position: I want to see an end to the British connection with Ireland.

Andrew:  How much does the Brexit vote help your ideal of a united Ireland?


Gerry Adams with Andrew Marr
Photo: BBC News

I think we need to be very, very careful that we don’t see Brexit as something which can be exploited. Brexit is disastrous for the people of Ireland. The British government are not at all clear about what their future relationship with the European Union’s going to be and they are arguing that they’re going to leave the customs union and they are going to leave the single market and that will end up a complete disaster for people here on the island of Ireland. The agreement that was made recently, which moved the negotiations into their second phase, was a fudge. It’s filled with contradictions. The, the…

Andrew:  …Fudge is not always bad.

Gerry:   Well, it is not always bad if it gets you over a particular difficulty. Tonnes of business people are totally dependent on the flow back and forth of business and commerce across what is an invisible border. When a hard economic border comes back that’s going to stump that – it’s going to destroy that.

Andrew:  If it comes back. If it comes back. One of your own MPs, Mr. (Chris) Hazzard, has said that if it comes back those customs posts and those hard pieces of infrastructure along the border could become a target for dissident Republican groups and mass civil disobedience and we could see the return of violence around the border. Do you share that worry?

Gerry:   Yes, I would. He didn’t say it was likely. He said it was a concern. And one has to be concerned that this would be exploited but look – you see, people have got used, after decades of conflict, people have got used to peace so the images which you may have or which I may have of border checkpoints and of heavy patrols and all of that…

Andrew:  …They belong to history…

Gerry:  That all belongs to history and nobody wants that back.

Andrew:  Now these debates are going to be thrashed out on the floor of the House of Commons and there are going to be some very substantial votes. If Sinn Féin took up its seats and even voted once or twice you could change the course of British history and change the course of history for the whole island of Ireland. Is it really worth Republican principle not taking those seats and not engaging in those votes?

Gerry:   Well before I deal with that let me tell you the solution to this problem: The solution to this problem is special designated status for The North within the European Union and that is do-able…

Andrew:  …but the Irish government don’t like this idea and nor do they like it in Brussels. They think it sets too many precedents for the rest of the EU.

Gerry:   Well, I don’t know whether they like it or not because they’re very flexible in terms of how they deal with the European Union and its relationships with the various different states and with political will that is very, very, very do-able. Now coming back to the issue of Sinn Féin taking our seats at Westminster: We just received the largest vote that we ever received…

Andrew:  …and you have leverage.

Gerry:   No, sorry,sorry, Andrew – we, when we get a mandate – obey that mandate and stay true to that mandate. But that vote was a vote for no British involvement in our affairs. The centre of political gravity being on the island of Ireland. So we will not betray those people who had a choice.

Andrew:   Let’s talk, if we may now, about the past: Why did you not join the IRA?

Gerry:   Because I was active in Sinn Féin when the IRA was just nonexistent. In the 1960’s after the Border Campaign the whole trajectory within Republicanism was to build politically and I’m one of the very small group of people who were activists before the pogroms in 1969 – I’m one of the very few Republicans in there. Now, having said that and, you know, it’s a matter of history, the IRA’s gone, Andrew. The IRA is gone. And I mean my position has been consistent that I was not a member of the IRA but I’ve never distanced myself from the IRA.

Andrew:   Well that’s the, so that’s – were you never tempted to join?

Gerry:   No, no, I wasn’t. No. I had my role in the struggle. I’d like to think I’ve served the struggle well.

Andrew:   Because, I mean you always supported the armed struggle. You always defended the IRA. You were treated by members of the IRA as a kind of commander when you were in Long Kesh and everybody who studied you – I mean I range from British politicians to journalists – they all think you were in the IRA. You always say: No, I wasn’t and I wasn’t on the Army Council. Why is it that everybody else, including the people who left their testimony in Boston and so forth, are sure that you were?

Gerry:  You’ll have to ask them that, Andrew. And you know some day I’ll do an interview and this issue won’t arise. Now I don’t mind dealing with the issue but I make the point again: See, the IRA have gone. I did defend the IRA but I also was very critical of the IRA at times. I don’t condone everything that the IRA did.

Andrew:  You were very, very vociferous and very clear in condemning the Manchester Arena bombing by an Islamic group. What is the moral difference between that, for instance, and the Birmingham Pub bombings?

Gerry:   Well the Birmingham Pub bombings were wrong. I condemn that as well.  I don’t have any compunction about it.

Andrew:   But those again, those were innocent people going in just to have a pint of Mild and listen to a jukebox.

Gerry:   Oh, no, no – but I gave you my answer to that. I mean I would wish that no one, no one, had been killed or injured in the course of the conflict.

Andrew:   At some point you changed your mind about the physical force process and about the use of violence. When and why did you change your mind?

Gerry:   Because we were able to create an alternative. When you can put forward an alternative sensible people will embrace that alternative because no one wants to be either supporting or part – no one sensible, wants to be supporting or part of armed action – so once you present an alternative – it’s when you close down the options, when you say to people…

Andrew:  …So it was tactical rather than moral. It wasn’t you saying: This is morally wrong. Killing people like this is the wrong thing to do, morally – it no longer works is what you’re saying, in a sense.

Gerry:  No, no, sorry, Andrew, I’m better able to tell you what I think on these matters than you to put words into my mouth. If we want to talk about morality you’d need a longer show than this. But look, you can only make moral judgments about people when you walk in their shoes and that’s, that’s, thankfully, is we’re talking here about history, we’re talking about something that has passed…

Andrew:   …So there was not a moment when you looked at the death of Tim Parry or some kid…

Gerry:   …Of course! Of course!…

Andrew:   …or whatever and you thought: This has gone far enough. I can no longer stick with this…

Gerry:  …Of course! Of course! And I said that at the time…

Andrew:  …it was a moral revulsion?…

Gerry:   And I said that at the time. So how could anyone, even if it’s accidental, how could anyone stand over the killing of a child or stand over the killing of a civilian? It’s a much different matter entirely, if you want to be into all of that, if it’s soldiers versus soldiers but in the awfulness of and the horror of war you cannot stand over some of those incidents.

Andrew:  You spent a lot of time sitting on the other side of the table from a whole stream of British leaders – very, very early days – Ted Heath and Willie Whitelaw and so forth and then John Major, Tony Blair, Peter Mandleson, Mo Mowlam – which of those did most for peace in Ireland in your view?

Gerry:   Well I suppose Tony Blair – you know and I would have big issues with him around Iraq and other matters and we actually, myself and Martin, warned him about not getting involved in Iraq.

Andrew:   Did you?

Gerry:    Oh, yes, yes! We said to him: Don’t, don’t do – look at the Irish experience – don’t go in there. But he was given an opportunity, if you’d like, on a plate and he seized it.

Andrew:   So Tony Blair – and now Tony Blair’s party is led by a very, very different man who’s always supported a united Ireland, he’s been a big backer of yours over the years – what difference would it make to the island of Ireland and to Sinn Féin and your cause to have Jeremy Corbyn as British Prime Minister, which he might well be?

Gerry:   Well I would like to see Jeremy in that position for the benefit of the people in Britain – leaving Ireland out of it. I think Jeremy is an outstanding politician and I hope…

Andrew:   …Let’s put Ireland back into it…

Gerry:   …I hope my endorsement of him isn’t used against him in the time ahead. But yes, he and Ken Livingstone and others kept faith and they were the people who said, when others said no, talk. They were the people who were open to conversation about how to deal with conflict and how to get conflict resolution processes but look – let’s not preempt the next…

Andrew:  …Of course not…

Gerry:  …general election.

Andrew:    Gerry Adams, are you a man of faith?

Gerry:   Yes, I am. Yes.

Andrew:   So one day you’ll be judged by your maker and when you’re being judged by your maker will you be able to say: I have clean hands?

Gerry:   Well, the one thing that I understand about faith – and you know, as you get older you reflect on all of these things – the one thing I know about Jesus is that He forgave. He didn’t go round condemning. Treat people with dignity and people will respond in a dignified way. Treat people badly and people will respond badly.

Andrew:   Nobody gets to write their own obituary – but what would be the headline on yours?

Gerry:   Well, God knows. I’m not really interested. You know, some people say to me: What’s your legacy? I won’t be around, you know?

Andrew:   None of us will. Gerry Adams, thank you very much indeed for talking to us.