Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams: Violence still legitimate way to achieve aims

By Gareth Cross

Former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has told a German newspaper that he believes the use of violence can still be justified to reach political aims in certain circumstances.

The Louth TD was interviewed by website 'Der Spiegel' ahead of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement next week.

'Der Spiegel' translated as 'The Mirror' is a weekly newspaper published in Hamburg.

In a wide ranging interview Mr Adams was asked about the Troubles, the current political deadlock in Northern Ireland and hopes for a united Ireland.

The publication asked Mr Adams: "Is violence a legitimate means with which to reach one's aims?"

"I think in given circumstances. And the circumstances at that time in the north were that people were being denied their rights," he replied.

"The English occupiers refused to concede those and in fact attacked the demonstrators. The most disastrous mistake that the English government made is that they handed the situation over to the generals. That always leads to a militarization of the situation. Military people are not there to pacify, they are there to subjugate."

In the interview he denied ever shooting at anyone during the Troubles but said he joined Sinn Fein after reading what the British government had planned for Ireland in the Special Powers Act.

"The people that I know didn't go to war. The war came to us," Mr Adams said.

"I woke up one morning, and the British Army were in occupation of the local school, the local football pitch, the local social center, the roadblocks were up. They were stopping you. They were throwing you up against the wall. They were arresting you. They were molesting women, and so on and so on."

Later in the interview Mr Adams was asked how he reconciled condoning violence with his faith as a Catholic.

"It's still my view that the use of armed actions in the given circumstances is a legitimate response. Whether you exercise that right is another issue. And of course, there were many things that the IRA did which were wrong. And I both condemned at the time and deplore and regret it to this time," he replied.

Mr Adams told the interviewer that he had always wanted peace in Ireland and had become involved in politics before the conflict started.

He was also asked if the Good Friday Agreement was worth the deaths of over 3000 people killed during the Troubles.

"Well, it's hard to measure it in those ways. Of course, it would've been far better if not one person was killed or injured. But you don't pursue and you don't get progress without struggle," Mr Adams replied.

"And I say that as someone who has lost a lot of family members and friends and who has been tortured and shot myself. I've been there, and I've been at many, many funerals. But of course, you can only measure all of this at the end of all of this. And I do believe that Irish unity is going to be the reality.

"Many armed groups were involved in the conflict. Regardless of who was responsible, I regret all the dead. Our cause and our commitment must be to ensure it never happens again."

Mr Adams told the interviewer that he felt he had achieved his aims as leader of Sinn Fein but would not be leaving the party and would not stop working as an activist.

The former West Belfast MP was replaced by Mary Lou McDonald as Sinn Fein President in February and intends to retire from The Dail folllowing the next general election in the Republic of Ireland.

He has always denied being a member of the IRA.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph