Gerry Adams forced to deny being IRA commander after Wikileaks claim
GERRY Adams has denied claims on Wikileaks that he used to be an IRA leader and had advance knowledge of the infamous Northern Bank raid.
The latest US diplomatic cable leaks say the Irish government had "rock solid evidence" on the allegations.
But Mr Adams said the claims were not new and that he had denied them at the time. The Sinn Fein leader blamed Irish political rivalries for the allegations.
According to Wikileaks, officials in Dublin told the US ambassador James Kenny that Mr Adams and his colleague Martin McGuinness were aware the 26.5 million robbery at the Northern Bank in Belfast in 2004, which was blamed on the IRA, was going to be carried out.
But Mr Adams said the claims were made publicly by the then Irish taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern, and had been denied by republicans at the time. "I repudiated it then, as did Martin. It isn't true," Mr Adams said.
"I then spoke to the taoiseach privately about this matter. It was my conviction at the time, because there was very intense, as there is now, electoral rivalry between Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail. I saw this and still see this as part of Fianna Fail's attack on, or fight back against, Sinn Fein at that time."
He said despite Wikileaks attributing the information to US diplomatic cables, the issue had never been raised in Sinn Fein contacts with the White House.
• New alleagtions on Finucane
"I worked very closely with, and indeed still work very closely with, American ambassadors and the US president at the time, vice-president and other members of the administration going back 15 years or so," Mr Adams said.
"They never raised this with me."
Mr Kenny's cable referred to a meeting with a senior Irish government official that focused on Mr Ahern's concerns about the peace process.
The ambassador recorded: "He said that the GOI (government of Ireland] does have 'rock solid evidence' that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are members of the IRA military command and for that reason, the Taoiseach is certain they would have known in advance of the robbery."While Mr McGuinness, now deputy first minister of Northern Ireland, has admitted being an IRA commander, Mr Adams has long denied he was even a member of the organisation.
The Wikileaks claim comes as the Sinn Fein president prepares to take a political gamble by resigning his Westminster seat in West Belfast to stand in County Louth in the Republic of Ireland's forthcoming general election.
The move is part of Sinn Fein's strategy to build its electoral support south of the border.
A party spokesman dismissed the Wikileaks claims last night as "utter nonsense".
"There is not a shred of evidence linking republicans to the Northern Bank robbery, and Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams have both made their positions crystal clear in relation to these matters in the past," he said.
Mr Adams later told the BBC he rejected the claims.
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 8 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: West