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Adams denies saying Republic should join UK in exit

By Kevin Doyle

Published 04/07/2016

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has denied that he privately told party members in Northern Ireland he would argue that the Republic should leave the EU if the UK voted for Brexit.

The director of Irish Eurosceptic lobby group, the National Platform for EU Research and Information, made the claim in a letter which he sent to Mr Adams, MLAs, councillors and TDs.

Anthony Coughlan, a retired associate professor of social policy at Trinity College Dublin, said he was handing out pro-Brexit leaflets in Belfast when he was told by a Sinn Fein activist that the party president had been making such comments.

Mr Coughlan claimed that Mr Adams "had been saying privately to Sinn Fein people that if the UK voted to leave the EU, you would advocate that the Irish State should do the same".

Mr Coughlan went on to write that he would support this approach as "such a course is the only way in which you can save what is left of the Republican project, for which so many people made so many sacrifices over decades, and keep Sinn Fein relevant as a political alternative to the Dail parties mentioned above".

He noted that he has written Mr Adams "many letters ever since you first wrote to me from Long Kesh internment camp away back in 1973 looking for information on what was then known as the 'Common Market'".

"I am sending you this one in the hope of persuading you that this is the principled Republican and democratic course to take, and that Sinn Fein's talk of a border poll, which has no hope of happening, and no hope of giving a desirable result even if it did happen, is but a distraction from the real issues now facing the country," Mr Coughlan added.

However, Mr Adams said this is not his position and that he made no such statements in advance of the UK referendum.

"I share his criticism of the European Union - but for us it was a straightforward position of trying to ensure that one part of the island wasn't in the European Union and the other part outside the European Union."

Mr Adams said he had written back to Mr Coughlan to explain his position.

"He says somebody told him this; that certainly isn't my position," he added.

In the letter, Mr Coughlan also claims Sinn Fein was throwing away an opportunity to establish links with unionists and had instead aligned themselves "with the central policy drive of the British Government and with the Goldman Sachses, David Camerons, Peter Sutherlands, Enda Kennys".

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