The opposition figure lashed out at growing criticism over his party’s alleged links to criminality in a tense interview on RTÉ’s News At One programme yesterday in which he repeatedly referred to the crisis as “contrived”.
The Louth TD, who has long been associated with the IRA but consistently denies ever being a member, said it is “utter nonsense” to suggest the party is “accountable” to an “outside” body like the army council of the IRA. He dismissed the British intelligence report which claimed this.
However, he admitted the IRA — which until the crisis in August over the murders of Kevin McGuigan and Jock Davison was believed to have disbanded — still returns “from time to time” to “deal” with “legacy issues”.
Mr Adams said it is “utter nonsense” to depict republicans as criminals.
However, Government ministers said yesterday Mr Adams and his party has questions to answer.
At separate events Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Environment Minister Alan Kelly and others hit out at revelations the provisional IRA’s army council continues to exist in some form.
While Taoiseach Enda Kenny simply focussed on the need for Stormont talks to intensify, Ms Fitzgerald said “Sinn Féin have questions to answer”.
The Justice Minister said the continuation of the provisional IRA structures and linked crime is “a living legacy”, and said the “point of ambiguity” over whether Mr Adams was ever in the organisation is “long gone”.
Mr Bruton said “Gerry Adams will obviously have to answer for himself” and that “Sinn Féin have to respond to this”, while Mr Kelly said there are clear “linkages” between Sinn Féin and the provisional IRA in the reports.
Meanwhile, abuse survivor and Labour’s candidate in the upcoming Seanad by-election Máiría Cahill last night told Fine Gael’s weekly parliamentary party meeting she is not “just” an anti-Sinn Féin candidate and will be campaigning as a voice for victims of sexual abuse.
Speaking in front of 50 TDs and Senators as she attempted to convince the major coalition partner to support her bid for a Seanad seat, the Belfast woman - who was repeatedly raped by a senior republican as a teenager - raised general concerns about the ongoing existence of structures of the provisional IRA in Northern Ireland and its “legacy” of criminality in the republic, but said her chief focus if elected will be to speak for victims of sexual abuse.