18 April 2002 Edition

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Sinn Féin rejects O'Malley summons

Gerry Adams and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin responded strongly last Thursday, 11 April, to PD TD Dessie O'Malley, chair of the Dáil Foreign Affairs Committee, who had requested Sinn Féin to appear before the committee to answer questions relating to alleged relationship between Sinn Féin and 'international terrorism'. The Sinn Féin leaders said they were concerned that the request "may be an attempt to use the proceedings of this Committee for blatant electioneering O'Malley's motives". The full text of the letter is as follows:

Dear Deputy O'Malley,

Thank you for your letter of 4 April inviting us to attend a meeting of your committee.

We have discussed this matter and we would be pleased to attend if you can assure us about the purpose of your invitation. As you will understand, we are concerned that your request may be an attempt to use the proceedings of this Committee for blatant electioneering and to pursue a domestic party political agenda, which has nothing to do with foreign affairs.

Last week, Deputy Bruton publicly stated that he had asked you to issue your invitation "because Gerry Adams has refused to attend hearings of the International Relations Committee" in Washington. This is not true. No decision has been taken on this matter.

In addition, Mr. Henry Hyde, Chairperson of the House International Relations Committee, has said that he has not made a definitive decision on whether these hearings will proceed.

I have publicly stated on many occasions in recent months, that I had no knowledge of the three men's presence in Colombia, that they were not acting at the direction of or on behalf of Sinn Féin.

We feel it is important to point out that the three Irish citizens who are facing trial are being held in very difficult and dangerous conditions.

Their lawyers, in Colombia and in Ireland, their families and the Irish government have all voiced concern regarding their safety. We do not believe that anything should be done to jeopardise their safety or their prospect of receiving a fair trial.

We reject the suggestion, implicit in your letter, that Sinn Féin has any case to answer in respect of International Terrorism.

We are implacably opposed to International Terrorism.

We stand on our record in the peace process. Our initiatives helped to establish it and indeed sustain it through some very difficult times. Our desire is to bring an end to conflict in Ireland and to see a new peaceful relationship between Ireland and Britain, one based on mutual respect and democratic principles.

Furthermore, you say among the issues that may be discussed are the possible relationship between Sinn Féin and FARC in Colombia, the possible link between Sinn Féin and ETA and between the Libyan authorities and Sinn Féin.

You do not say whether these matters will be discussed nor whether they are on the clár of your meeting.

But for the record, there is no relationship between Sinn Féin and FARC or between Sinn Féin and ETA, although our party has encouraged a peace process in the Basque Country. And there is no relationship between the Libyan authorities and Sinn Féin. So as you can see, we are a little bemused at your invitation. You could have discussed any of these matters with us or any of our party colleagues at any time and in fact, Caoimhghín was available for such discussions for the entire term of this Dáil. If you don't mind us saying so, it is a little strange that you have refused to talk to Sinn Féin for all of your political career and now in the last few weeks of your political life you seek to summon us to a meeting for an unspecified purpose.

So we are sure you will agree that if your intentions are genuine, it would

be helpful if you could let us know the following:

The basis of the invitation to Sinn Féin. Is it Mr Bruton's incorrect charge that Gerry Adams is "refusing" to attend hearings in another country or unnamed media reports?
Do you intend that the Foreign Affairs Committee will investigate allegations against three Irishmen before their trial in Colombia?
Has any consideration been given to the impact proceedings may have on the ability of these men to receive a fair trial?
Has your committee ever dealt with issues attributed to terrorism of concern to citizens in this state? For example, has the Committee ever discussed the killing of Cllr. Eddie Fullerton, Bloody Sunday or indeed the involvement of British forces in the Dublin Monaghan bombings?
Have you ever discussed RUC and British Intelligence Services operational links with loyalist death squads, which resulted in hundreds of sectarian killings?
Specifically, have you discussed the killing of Pat Finucane, Rosemary Nelson, Robert Hamill and others?
Have you ever invited the British government to meet the committee on any of these matters?

If you would be prepared to outline to us what the purpose of the meeting is, at whose request we are being asked to attend and what it is designed to achieve, then we would be happy to consider your invitation.

As you will understand, we are very busy, but in order to be helpful to you and in order to deal with the issues we have raised above, we would be pleased to make ourselves available to meet with you to take this matter forward. We look forward to your response.

As you know, this matter and the issue of your invitation was made available to the media even before I received it. You will understand, therefore, that after sending this letter to the committee we will publish its contents.

Is Sinne,

Gerry Adams MP
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1