Belfast Telegraph

UUP's Robin Swann challenges Sinn Fein leadership to clarify views on violence

Ulster Unionist Party Leader Robin Swann has called on the current Sinn Fein leadership to state whether or not they agree that violence is justified in pursuit of a political agenda.

His comments come after former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams said violence was justified in order to reach political aims in certain circumstances.

The former Sinn Féin president was speaking to a German website when he was asked if violence was a legitimate means to reach aims.

"I think in given circumstances. And the circumstances at that time in the north were that people were being denied their rights,” Mr Adams said.

North Antrim MLA Robin Swann said that Mr Adams was attempting to re-write history.

“Gerry Adams’s comments, made to a German newspaper, in which he said that the use of violence can be justified to reach political aims, indicate a mindset that has not moved on," he said.

“It is no surprise that republicans should seek to try to justify the terrorist actions they engaged in, but the reality is that the crimes they committed were simply that – crimes. There was no political agenda furthered by the Abercorn bombing. Or by Bloody Friday, Claudy, Enniskillen or Warrington.

“The IRA did not take up arms for equality or against the Special Powers Act. To say that, is a complete re-writing of history. The IRA took up arms in pursuit of a sectarian campaign."

He called on Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald to clarify their position on Mr Adams comments.

“These comments pose very real and serious questions for the current Sinn Fein leadership of Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill as to whether or not they agree with them, and what role and influence Gerry Adams still has in the Party.

“Before they answer they should be mindful of the Assembly's Ministerial code of office which say says -

To pledge:

(b) commitment to non-violence and exclusively peaceful and democratic means;

(c) to support the rule of law unequivocally in word and deed and to support all efforts to uphold it;

“Comments like these challenge the genuineness of Sinn Fein’s words about unionist outreach, because any vague notions will ring very hollow indeed.”

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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