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Gerry Adams rejects claim 'shadowy figures' run Sinn Fein

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Sinn Fein’s former leader Gerry Adams (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sinn Fein’s former leader Gerry Adams (Brian Lawless/PA)

Sinn Fein’s former leader Gerry Adams (Brian Lawless/PA)

Former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has rejected claims that "shadowy figures" play a key role in the running of the party.

Ahead of the party's surprise election success Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin ruled out entering coalition with Sinn Fein, saying "shadowy figures" and "unelected officials" were running the party.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar echoed the comments saying "Sinn Fein is not a normal party".

Since the election, Sinn Fein's party structures have been cited as a reason by both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael for not entering coalition with the party.

However Mr Adams rejected this criticism, saying that the unelected officials in Sinn Fein were no different from any other party.

He said that the claims could also lead to people being targeted with threats as Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O'Neill and MLA Gerry Kelly have been in recent weeks.

Ted Howell

Mr Adams said that the so-called "shadowy figures" including Ted Howell, Padraic Wilson, Marty Lynch, Sean Murray and Bobby Storey were well known to both the UK and Irish Governments as well as Mr Varadkar and Mr Martin.

Writing in his blog, the former West Belfast MP said that they had been part of the Sinn Fein negotiating team for a "very long time" and had met leading political figures including Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, Theresa May and Bertie Aherin during political negotiations.

Mr Adams cited the role of former IRA prisoners, including Mr Storey and Mr Murray, in addressing legacy issues in the Stormont House negotiations in 2014.

He wrote that apart from Mr Storey who was absent due to illness, the "shadowy figures" also played key roles in the recent New Decade, New Approach agreement.

"All of these activists are well known. They have held senior public and elected positions in the party. Many have had long and fruitful relationships with senior Irish and British government Ministers and officials as we have charted a course from conflict, through a peace process, to an end to conflict and peace," the recently retired former TD wrote.

Mr Adams said that the IRA had been urged to give up violence and now former IRA members who had entered politics were being told this was "not good enough".

Bobby Storey

He also cited a willingness to work with some former elected IRA members like Sinn Fein MLAs Gerry Kelly, Caral Ni Chuilin and Conor Murphy while referring to those unelected as "shadowy".

"I am certain if Padraic Wilson, Ted, Big Bob or Marty Lynch, Sean Murray or others like them stood for election in their communities they would be elected," the former Sinn Fein President wrote.

Mr Adams said that the community work and engagement of former prisoners and IRA members was part of the reason that dissident republican groups enjoyed such little support.

He accused Fianna Fail and Fine Gael of having "selective memories" noting both parties emerged from conflict and had close relationships with the IRA.

"Sinn Fein agrees policy at our Ard Fheis which is entirely open to the media and is widely covered by it. Our Ard Comhairle and party leader are elected at the Ard Fheis. Very democratic. Very public, very open," Mr Adams wrote.

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Padraic Wilson

Padraic Wilson

Padraic Wilson

It was revealed on Friday that despite standing down as Louth TD ahead of the General Election Mr Adams was part of Sinn Fein's negotiating team as they attempt to form a government in the Irish Republic.

A source said Mr Adams has been involved in a negotiations for "most of his life" and this was the reason for his involvement in the talks.

He sat in the Dail's visitors' gallery in Leinster House during the vote for Taoiseach on Thursday, with his successor Mary Lou McDonald gaining the most votes, but still falling short of securing the position.

In the midst of the debate around Sinn Fein's leadership Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has said his force's view is that the IRA Army Council still oversees the running of the party.

The former PSNI Deputy Chief Constable said his view "does not differ" from the PSNI's analysis on the issue.

Belfast Telegraph