Gerry Adams has insisted that the “IRA were never defeated” during the Troubles in Northern Ireland, despite claims made by British Prime Minister David Cameron.
The Sinn Féin president issued a statement to mark the 10th anniversary of the IRA making a formal declaration on July 28, 2005 that its military campaign was over. The declaration came as part of the Peace Process, which involved intense negotiations between Nationalists and Loyalists, and the British and Irish governments.
Mr Adams played a key role in persuading the IRA to end hostilities. In September 2005, the IRA began decommissioning its weapons, a move which enabled the Peace Process to proceed and eventually lead on to the Good Friday Agreement.
In a recent speech about the need to defeat the threat from organisations like ISIS, Mr Cameron said that “British resolve saw off the IRA’s assaults on our way of life”.
Mr Adams said: ““I note the recent remarks of British Prime Minister David Cameron when he claimed that ‘British resolve saw off the IRA’. This is a distortion of recent history. It also betrays a worrying ignorance on the part of a British premier of the dynamics which have propelled the Irish Peace Process for many years.
“The reality is that the IRA was never defeated and that again and again it was Irish republicans, including the IRA leadership, which took bold steps to bolster the Peace Process and to maintain positive political momentum.
“Ten years ago, on 28 July 2005, the IRA formally ended its armed campaign and gave its support to purely peaceful and democratic means of achieving republican objectives.
“David Cameron would do well to understand that it was such initiatives which broke the long cycle of conflict and opened up new political possibilities.”
Mr Adams was also critical of the British government’s austerity measures, which he said were jeopardising the stability of the power sharing systems in Northern Ireland.
“The political structures negotiated so painstakingly as part of the Good Friday Agreement face collapse as a result of the British government’s ideologically driven austerity agenda.
“By slashing hundreds of millions of pounds from the finances of the North’s Executive, the British government has attacked the ability of the political institutions to deliver for citizens.”
He added that the whole period of the Troubles, British governments had provided “limitless financial resources to pursue a military agenda” in Northern Ireland.
“They now need to bring a similar commitment to building the peace. A new approach is required from the British government – one based on investment, which would allow the political institutions to grow and develop the economy for the benefit of all our citizens.”
Mr Adams was also critical of the Irish government because its “attitude to the North is dictated by party political and selfish electoral considerations”.
“The Taoiseach needs urgently to take up his responsibilities towards citizens in the North and to be a champion of the peace process.”
“In order to restore hope, to rescue the political institutions and re-establish positive political momentum, the British government must provide the Executive with the tools to invest in public services, grow the economy and address the legacy of the past. The British government needs to re-engage with the peace process.”
Gerry Adams has been president of Sinn Fein since 1983. He is the Teachta Dála (TD) for Louth and East Meath. He came to prominence in the civil rights campaign in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and went on to become one of the leading figures in the Republican movement. Along with John Hume of the SDLP, he made the first tentative steps towards the Peace Process that eventually brought about a resolution to the conflict in the North.