MLAs heap pressure on Gerry Adams over Disappeared
Unionists and Alliance attempted to heap more pressure on Gerry Adams – and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness – in an Assembly debate on the Disappeared.
The SDLP also joined forces with other parties to block a Sinn Fein bid to remove Mr Adams' name from an UUP motion which voiced "extreme concern" over allegations that the republican party's president was involved in the kidnap and killing of Jean McConville in 1972.
The motion was tabled after the recent BBC/RTE documentary which focused on the on-going horror facing the families of people who were abducted, murdered and then secretly buried – seven of whom remain missing.
In a mostly subdued and dignified debate, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said it was apparent that even the Provisional IRA did not believe Mr Adams' assertions that he was never a member of the organisation.
"Billy McKee, a 92-year-old, who, to use mixed language, is republican royalty, has challenged (Mr Adams) to say to his face that he was never in the PIRA."
Mr Nesbitt argued that, after nearly 15 years, only half the Disappeared have been found after information was supplied by republicans in an amnesty scheme.
"Half the truth is not enough," he added.
Sinn Fein's Mitchel McLaughlin, however, argued: "There has always been an all-party requirement that those who have any information should bring it forward. That is, until today's debate."
He said the UUP motion, particularly in referring to Gerry Adams, was "ill-thought through" and perhaps designed to thwart the all-party approach, even though republicans had worked to correct "the injustice".
His colleague Raymond McCartney said the UUP and DUP had set a poor and worrying precedent in naming Mr Adams.
"The place and method of testing any allegation is by due process, not an Assembly motion," he added.
Colleague Caitriona Ruane said what had happened the families of the Disappeared was a wrong "which can never be righted".
The DUP's Peter Weir said his party completely agreed with the UUP motion, saying: "This (the Disappeared) was one of the greatest evils inflicted on our society... an unimaginable horror."
STORY SO FAR
Gerry Adams has denied having any part to play in the abductions and killings of the victims who were 'Disappeared'. And he accused his former colleague Brendan 'The Dark' Hughes of "telling lies" in claiming that the Sinn Fein president ordered the disappearance and execution of Belfast woman Jean McConville. "I had no act or part to play in either the abduction, the killing or burial of Jean McConville, or indeed any of these other people," he told a recent BBC/RTE co-production.