24 February 2005 Edition
Joint Statement from Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP, Martin McGuinness MP, and Martin Ferris TD in a joint statement issued in Dublin on Monday afternoon, rejected accusations from Justice Minister Michael McDowell that they are members of the IRA's Army Council. They said:
Sinn Féin is totally committed to the Peace Process and to engaging with the Irish Government in these difficult times to find a way forward.
Despite our anger at attempts to criminalise our party and its supporters, we have been measured in our comments. We have asked others to do likewise, as we are conscious that a protracted war of words among Irish nationalists is deeply damaging to the overall process.
However, given the seriousness of Michael McDowell's outburst on the national airwaves on Sunday, we have taken the unusual step of issuing a joint statement in response.
We want to state categorically that we are not members of the IRA or its Army Council. Our involvement in the peace process is as leaders of Sinn Féin and as elected representatives for West Belfast, Mid-Ulster and Kerry North, respectively. As part of this, in the past we have met with the Army Council to put propositions regarding the peace process.
Sinn Féin's contribution to this process has been substantial and we will continue to play our part.
For some time now, Michael McDowell has been unable to distinguish between his role as Justice Minister and President of the Progressive Democrats. He has made countless unsubstantiated allegations against our party and its leadership.
Recently, the Irish Government accused Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams of withholding information and of conspiring to rob the Northern Bank in December. We challenged the government to stand this accusation up and they failed to do so.
And then at the weekend, Michael McDowell made his unfounded and serious allegation that we — Martin McGuinness, Martin Ferris and Gerry Adams — are members of the IRA Army Council.
For Minister McDowell to do this is an abuse of his office.
If his view is shared by the Gardaí then the only way this issue can be confronted is for us to be charged with IRA membership.