Sinn Fein leaders angry but defiant
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has now called on the British
government to accept responsibility for bringing down the North's
power-sharing executive in 2002.
Mr Adams was speaking on Monday after talks with British Direct
Ruler Peter Hain in the wake of the Donaldson/'Stormontgate'
But Mr Adams was careful not to suggest that the collapse had
been ordered from London, instead blaming "political policing"
for creating a debacle.
Mr Adams said: "Essentially this issue is about the need for the
British government to both accept responsibility for what has
happened and what is happening and also to end political
"A very unique power-sharing administration was toppled after
centuries of conflict ... The truth of the matter is that British
agencies were at the heart of that coup d'etat," he told
Mr Adams: "We are not going to be deflected by anything from that
"But it is not good enough for a British Secretary of State to
simply dismiss the fact that his state agencies behave in the way
they behave," he added.
Earlier Mr Hain ruled out an inquiry into the matter, saying it
was not in the public interest to do so.
"Frankly, we have had inquiries galore in Northern Ireland. They
cost hundreds of millions of pounds," he said.
But Sinn Fein's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness said there
were people within the North's police force and within British
intelligence who were hostile to his party's participation in the
"It is now time for the British to answer questions about their
agents, about their agencies, and about their approach to the
process," he said.
"What we are calling on them to do is declare that their war
against republicans and the peace process is finally over."
The Sinn Fein leadership has come under strong criticism from
republicans for its previous strong denials of allegations that
Britain had placed an informer in its highest ranks.
Placing all its trust in a self-supporting 'elite' coterie of
leaders, including Donaldson, those who questioned the party's
direction were treated harshly and with disdain.
Some republicans are now pointing to the lack of tangible
progress in the peace process and arguing that the leadership
itself must now come under suspicion.
However, Martin McGuinness has insisted that the Sinn Fein
leadership group "intends to go on".
"This isn't the first time a British agent has been uncovered and
what we do in this circumstance, just like in the other
situations we have had to deal with over the years, we pick
ourselves up and we obviously learn the lessons and face the
disappointment of what has happened over the last while," he
"We have huge responsibilities and we have to go on and we intend
to go on. The Sinn Fein leadership is not going to lie down."
In a slight hardening of tone, Mr McGuinness said revelations
that the British government has been spying on Sinn Fein "will
"That means a lot of very straight talking about things... I
think the type of challenges that republicans have had to face
are now the same sort of challenges that have to be faced by the
British government and others within the process. And that is,
how do we deal with the militarists within the PSNI, the anti
agreement policemen? These are challenges for the British
government now, for Hugh Orde and the Policing Board."
Mr McGuinness said the Sinn Fein leadership "isn't going to let
those people win".
There's no prospect of Sinn Fein becoming involved in policing
until we bring about the transfer of powers and the achievement
of all the commitments that were made by the British government
in their negotiations with us last December."
The Mid-Ulster MP said the British government was now under
pressure to deliver on key issues.
"It's a very simple scenario which the British have to deliver
on. The British have to face the type of challenges that we have
had to face and give answers to them in the same fashion we have
had to in recent times. They are essentially going to have to
tell us how they intend to stop the activities of these hostile
forces, many of whom are being paid wages by them on a weekly
Mr McGuinness acknowledged the shock felt in republican circles
by last weeks revelations and described Mr Donaldson's actions as
"Republicans are obviously very disappointed that someone like
Denis Donaldson would effectively betray his community and betray
republicanism in the way that he did.
"I am around the struggle long enough to know that you always
have to work on the basis that opponents of the process, which is
about trying to achieve the rights of citizens and the freedom,
justice and peace that Ireland as a nation and the Irish people
are entitled to, will continue to beaver away to undermine those
who are spearheading the struggle to bring about fundamental
change in our society.
"You would be very foolish to ignore the possibility that the
British have got other agents working right through the entire
Mr McGuinness denied that the leadership of republicanism had
been infiltrated, because otherwise "republicanism wouldn't be as
strong as it is today.
"Republicanism would have been defeated an awful long time ago,
and I think that clearly shows that these people haven't got the
level of infiltration that they would like to have within the
leadership of Sinn Fein and generally throughout the Sinn Fein
And rather than lick his wounds over the revelation that one of
his top aides was a British informer, Adams has come out swinging
against what he described as "wreckers" and "dissident
within British rule in Ireland.
"Sinn Fein has not been alone in identifying elements within the
British system who have been involved for many years in a
planned, systematic campaign to undermine the peace process," Mr
Adams said ahead of his talks.
"Senator George Mitchell, Chris Patten and even Hugh Orde have
all spoken of those within the British system working against the
peace process and the implementation of the Good Friday
"Despite the intrigues of these dissident elements significant
progress has been made. However more would have been achieved,
and more quickly but for their plotting."
Mr Adams pointed to what he claimed was "a new opportunity"
make progress in the New Year following the Provisional IRA's
"historically significant initiatives" to disarm and end its
"The New Year will see important efforts being made to restore
the political institutions," said Mr Adams.
"All of this is at risk because of these dissident elements
within the British system.
"The onus to stop this lies with the British government. It has
to take whatever steps are necessary to rein in the wreckers who
are opposing British government policy. And there has to be an
end to political policing."