From: Michael Wilson (MWILSON/0005514706at_private)
Date: Fri Dec 05 1997 - 10:20:31 PST

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                        Sinn Fein leaders deny reported IRA links
          Copyright ) 1997 Nando.net
          Copyright ) 1997 Reuters
       BELFAST (December 5, 1997 08:29 a.m. EST http://www.nando.net) - Top
       Sinn Fein official Martin McGuinness has denied a claim that he and his
       party leader Gerry Adams are senior commanders of the IRA guerrilla
       group. The allegation was made in a BBC television program broadcast in
       British-ruled Northern Ireland on Thursday.
       Quoting "authoritative republican and security sources," the Spotlight
       program said that Adams and McGuinness were on the so-called army
       council of the Irish Republican Army.
       "Neither Gerry Adams nor myself are members of the IRA army council.
       Neither Gerry Adams nor myself are members of the IRA," McGuinness told
       the program.
       Adams, who is Sinn Fein's president, and McGuinness, the party's chief
       negotiators at all-party peace talks on Northern Ireland, are due to
       meet British Prime Minister Tony Blair at his Downing Street residence
       in London next week.
       Ken Maginnis, a spokesman for the Protestant Ulster Unionist Party,
       which strongly supports British rule, said Blair should call off the
       meeting. He said it was the latest in a string of concessions to those
       who want to break the province's British links in favor of an
       all-Ireland state.
       "They are being paid ransom in weekly tranches. The visit to Downing
       Street is part of it," Maginnis told the BBC. "I would be surprised if
       the prime minister reneged now, but he should."
       Ronnie Flanagan, Northern Ireland's police commander, told the BBC
       program he believed Sinn Fein and the IRA were "inextricably linked."
       "I think that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness are important leaders in
       Sinn Fein, obviously, and therefore they are important to the overall
       strategy of the Republican movement (consisting of the IRA and Sinn
       The "Spotlight" program said the seven-strong army council was dominated
       by four senior Sinn Fein members, including Adams and McGuinness.
       Sinn Fein is a legal political group.
       The program was investigating recent reports of dissent in the IRA and
       Sinn Fein, following the resignations of several members of each
       Recent media reports said that the IRA "quartermaster general" and
       others had stormed out in protest against the guerrilla group's peace
       policy in Northern Ireland.
       By Martin Cowley, Reuters

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