Northern Ireland

Gerry Adams: Watchdog finds 'no evidence' police knew of shooting

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Media captionMr Adams was shot in 1984, months after becoming president of Sinn Féin

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland has found no evidence of police involvement in a loyalist gun attack on Gerry Adams 30 years ago.

Gunmen fired at a car containing Mr Adams and three others in March 1984.

Mr Adams complained to the ombudsman in 2006, after allegations that members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) knew about the attack beforehand.

The ombudsman, Michael Maguire, said his investigation had found nothing to back up the allegations.

He said: "We have talked to all the people involved in the events that day, including the perpetrators, the victims and the police.

'No access'

"We have examined all the available evidence, including forensic and sensitive intelligence material and found no evidence that police knew of the attack beforehand."

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Image caption Gerry Adams was first elected as West Belfast MP months before he was shot
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Image caption Civil disturbances on the streets of Belfast followed the shooting

Mr Adams, the president of Sinn Féin, said the ombudsman's report was "incomplete" as he did not have access to Army files and other intelligence records.

He said: "The ombudsman says that there was no collusion by the RUC or 'security forces'.

"But he did not have access to British Army files or those relating to the Force Research Unit, which was the British intelligence agency principally responsible for running agents and informers within the UDA [the loyalist Ulster Defence Association].

"The ombudsman should seek access to British Army files and other pertinent intelligence records and set aside his conclusions until this is done."

Shot several times

He added: "I will write to him formally asking him to do this."

Dr Maguire told the BBC: "First of all, my remit is specifically in relation to the police - I have no remit over the military or any other agency involved.

"As we say in the report, intelligence both prior to and following the attack was requested from both the police and the military and all sensitive material was reviewed.

"The important thing for me is whether the police knew the attack was going to take place - my conclusion is that they didn't.

"Secondly, was there any evidence that those on the ground had advance knowledge that the incident was going to take place? I found no evidence of that."

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Image caption Police Ombudsman Michael Maguire found no evidence of collusion

Mr Adams had complained to the ombudsman about possible collusion after a newspaper report said the police had been tipped off a week earlier by an informer inside the UDA.

Dr Maguire said that while reporters he spoke to would not reveal their sources, "we had access to far more information than any journalist had, and in looking in that material I find no evidence to suggest there was prior knowledge and nothing was done".

"It's very easy to raise allegations - I think the important thing is whether there is any evidence behind it," he said.

Mr Adams was shot in 1984, months after becoming president of Sinn Féin.

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Image caption Police guarded the hospital where Mr Adams was treated after the shooting
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Image caption UDA leader John Gregg was jailed for his part in the ambush

He was travelling in a car from Belfast Magistrates' Court when paramilitary Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) opened fire.

The men were caught by an off-duty police officer, an off-duty member of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), and two soldiers in plain clothes.

Mr Adams was shot several times, and the three other men with him in the car were also injured.

UDA leader John Gregg, himself murdered in 2003, was jailed for his part in the ambush.


DUP Policing Board member Jonathan Craig said the ombudsman had "found nothing to corroborate Gerry Adams' weak accusation that 'something was not quite right'".

"Sinn Féin like to paint the picture that every action carried out by loyalist paramilitaries was directed by members of the security forces," he said.

"Sinn Féin's paranoia about policing often appears to know no bounds but this demonstrates what most people know; the vast majority of those who served attempted to tackle terrorism regardless of from where it emanated."

Ross Hussey of the Ulster Unionist Party said he hoped Mr Adams would "show some graciousness and accept that there was no security force involvement in the attack".

"It is hugely regrettable that instead of showing gratitude, or indeed any grace at all, Gerry Adams and other senior republicans questioned the fact that a number of off-duty security personnel were in the vicinity at the time of the attack," said the UUP Policing Board member.

"I would like to remind the Sinn Féin leader that in 1984 he was an apologist for the actions of the IRA, which included regular shootings and bomb attacks in Belfast."

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