Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams says 'family of Arlene Foster have suffered' at memorial for IRA member

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has spoken of the suffering of Arlene Foster's family at a commemoration event for an IRA volunteer.

Speaking at the Louis Leonard commemorative lecture, Mr Adams also reflected on losses suffered by his own family.

"The family of Arlene Foster have suffered in the course of the conflict," he said.

"My family have also suffered. Two family members were killed. One, an IRA volunteer Patrick Mulvenna was killed by the British Army. The other Ciaran Murphy, a young man whose main interest was in traditional music, was abducted and killed by unionist paramilitaries."

Arlene Foster had two first-hand encounters with IRA violence as a child. 

When she was eight her father, policeman John Kelly, survived being shot by the IRA.

When the DUP leader was 16 a school bus she was travelling on was bombed by the IRA in an attempt to kill the the driver, a part-time UDR soldier.

In his speech, the Sinn Fein president focused on reconciliation, saying that while people "don’t have to forget what happened or indeed to forgive", political leaders "have to do all that we possibly can to build a future based on respect, tolerance and equality".

Mr Adams also described being interrogated during the 1970s, and how he later met with one of the men involved in beating him.

"Forgiveness is also an important element in all of this. Many years ago during the 1970s I was arrested and taken for interrogation by the British Army and RUC," he said.

"British soldiers beat me unconscious several times in the course of this. On one occasion a British Army doctor came in to see if I was fit for the beatings to continue.

"Many years later I was in Parliament Buildings when this wee man came up to me and said: ‘I used to be a British soldier and I battered you when you were arrested and I’m sorry.’

"I said: ‘Do you promise not to do it again?’ We shook hands and he went off happy and so did I.”

Responding to the Sinn Fein president's comments, the DUP’s South Antrim MP Paul Girvan said: "Of course Mr Adams still justifies the targeting of Mrs Foster’s father and the man driving her school bus.

"This says it all about Gerry Adams’ belief in reconciliation.  Both acts were an act of terrorism and utterly unjustified.  Sinn Fein on an almost weekly basis celebrates and glories in acts of terror."

Louis Leonard was a member of the IRA killed after being shot by loyalists in his butcher's shop in Derrylin, Co Fermanagh.

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