28 August 2001
Statement from Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP MLA makes his first comments on the arrest of three Irishmen in Columbia, and the decision by the SDLP to sign up to the Policing Board, in an article in the New York based Irish Voice.
Mr. Adams expresses his deep concern that the media blitz and the political spins and propaganda surrounding the Columbia arrests is worthy of the trial by media experience of the Birmingham 6 and the Guildford 4.
On Columbia he says: ``The first I learned of this business was when the three Irish people were arrested. I can say with certainty, they were not there representing Sinn Fein. I would have had to authorise such a project and I did not do so. Neither was I or anyone else asked to.
``Efforts to make Sinn Fein accountable for these three Irish men are totally unjustified and serve no good purpose. My own view is that they should be released. And that the Irish government should be doing its best to secure their freedom as soon as possible.
``So whatever the hype, the lies and the propaganda, and no doubt there will continue to be a lot of all this, or the implications in the USA arising from these arrests, Sinn Fein has no case to answer.''
Dealing with recent developments in the Policing debate the Sinn Fein President says: ``....clearly the move by Dublin and the SDLP is a setback to the search for proper policing. At the very least their support for the British government's policing plans is premature and short sighted. It is not entirely a surprise. The SDLP's position on policing has always been a minimalist one and it has been under considerable pressure from the unionists as well as London and Dublin on this and other issues.
``Maybe after the recent election results the SDLP felt it needed to take an initiative. It certainly has done that. But at what cost? The sensible thing was for all the parties representing nationalist Ireland to stand together until the British government delivered on its obligations. That way a sense of a consensus would have been maintained. More importantly the British government would have had to move. Instead it has been allowed to play the oldest trick in the book. It is divide and conquer time again...
``And all of this is on top of an unrelenting campaign of gun and bomb attacks by loyalists. Last week witnessed a mass demonstration by the illegal UDA, the group mainly responsible for these attacks as part of its opposition to the Good Friday Agreement. But the British Secretary of State insists the UDAs ceasefire remains intact. He should try explaining that to their victims.''
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