In death, ex-IRA commander names Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams as key IRA figure in killings

By Shawn Pogatchnik, AP
Monday, March 29, 2010

New book IDs Sinn Fein’s Adams as IRA godfather

DUBLIN — A groundbreaking new book on the Northern Ireland conflict published Monday identifies Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams as a key Irish Republican Army figure who directed some of the IRA’s most notorious killings and bombings.

Sinn Fein rejects the allegations in “Voices From the Grave,” a book based on interviews provided by Northern Ireland militants to Boston College researchers on condition they not be published until the interviewees were dead.

Most of the book quotes or summarizes interviews with Brendan “The Dark” Hughes, who was an IRA comrade of Adams when Northern Ireland’s social divisions exploded in 1969 into civil war pitting the Irish Catholics of the IRA against the Protestant majority and the British Army. Hughes gave the interviews in 2001 and 2002 and died in 2008 aged 59.

In the book, Hughes chides Adams for disavowing any involvement in the IRA. Hughes is quoted explaining his and Adams’ IRA ranks throughout the 1970s and 1980s, when Hughes admits he was an enthusiastic gunman, bomber and bank robber.

“I never carried out a major operation without the OK or the order from Gerry,” the book quoted Hughes as saying. “And for him to sit in his plush office … and deny it, I mean it’s like Hitler denying that there was ever a Holocaust.”

Boston College recruited Northern Ireland journalist Ed Moloney — who also detailed Adams’ IRA record in his 2002 book “A Secret History of the IRA” — to turn Hughes’ interview transcripts into a book. It also includes the story of Protestant bomber-turned-peacemaker David Ervine, who died in 2007.

No serious historian of the IRA-Sinn Fein movement has ever doubted that Adams was a senior IRA commander, although the politician himself has denied membership ever since he began running for Northern Ireland political positions in 1982.

But this is the first time that a former close colleague of Adams — who helped carry Hughes’ coffin — has portrayed the Sinn Fein chief as instrumental in murder and mayhem. The traditional IRA punishment for pointing the finger at colleagues has been death.

Sinn Fein dismissed Hughes’ reported comments as old news and twisted by Hughes’ deteriorating health.

“The allegations are not new. Gerry Adams has consistently denied these,” Sinn Fein said in a statement. “In the last years of his life Brendan Hughes was very ill and he publicly disagreed with the strategy being pursued by (Irish) republicans.”

Moloney said Hughes’ comments are colored by his disillusionment with Adams for leading Sinn Fein into a coalition government in Northern Ireland, a corner of the United Kingdom that the IRA long sought to force into the Republic of Ireland. The IRA killed nearly 1,800 people from 1970 to 1997, then surrendered its weapons and renounced violence in 2005.

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