Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams: Sinn Fein not trying to put soldiers in the dock - 'but want justice for all victims'

By Allan Preston

SINN Fein president Gerry Adams has warned against patching together a makeshift deal, saying it wouldn’t last unless it was “sustainable”, due to the absence of Martin McGuinness and the influence he exerted.

As the parties prepare to enter a new phase of talks aimed at restoring Stormont, Mr Adams also said he would be prepared to talk about his own past if the right mechanisms were in place.

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Throughout the peace process, Mr McGuinness, a former IRA commander in Londonderry, was seen as someone capable of using his influence to keep hardline republicans on the political path during periods of compromise.

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Adams: “When you have somebody as big and as strong and formidable as Martin, he could carry that to a certain degree for the rest of us.

“Martin’s gone, so even if we were able to cobble something together tomorrow it wouldn’t last, so I want it to be sustainable.”

The Sinn Fein chief said he was ready to follow a pledge made by the late Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness, (right) who said he would address his role in the Troubles if the right mechanism existed.

Asked if he was prepared to do the same, Mr Adams replied: “Yes, I have said, and Martin and I said this together and we’ve said it quite a few times, that we would both do our best, and we would also encourage other republicans to come forward if there was a satisfactory arrangement put in place, and that’s my commitment.”

Mr Adams was challenged over Sinn Fein’s demands on legacy issues, which have become a source of friction with the DUP and the British Government.

Mr Adams said: “Well, it isn’t about getting British soldiers in the dock, it’s about the victims of British soldiers being treated exactly the same as the victims of the IRA or any other combatant force.

“Our position has been for an international, independent truth commission that everybody can make use of.

“But we compromised on this issue, and yes, I believe that victims of the IRA, or at least their relatives, have the right to truth and I believe that those who are victims of British Army violence or State violence also have the right to the truth, and the British Government is holding that back.”

During the interview, which was part of the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, Mr Adams also spoke about dealing with the death of his friend.

“I miss him in terms of the daily grind of the work that we’re doing.

“From 1972 this is the first talks process that he and I haven’t been together,” he said.

“But I miss him also at a personal level, deeply so.

“I reconciled myself to that because I know you have to go through a grieving process.

“So many people knew Martin McGuinness, he was a fixture for decades, he’s more affable than me, more outgoing — he’s not as shy as me.

“I used to say getting Martin out of a meeting, venue or event was like trying to get a drunk man out of a pub.

“He wanted to have the craic, to talk and shake hands with and swap stories with every person there, and that was his nature, and that’s one of the reasons

why people think of him so fondly.”

The interview was broadcast ahead of fresh talks which will seek to thrash out a deal in order to bring back power-sharing at Stormont.

Pressure is mounting on the parties to reach agreement, with the threat of a fresh election on the horizon if the impasse continues.

During the interview, Mr Adams also denied that a special designated status for Northern Ireland post-Brexit would be a united Ireland by the back door.

He said there was little doubt the Irish border would become a “hard economic frontier” unless Northern Ireland was given special status.

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