Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has again defended his Republican past and his links to the IRA – and claimed political foes use it as a stick to beat him with.

The County Louth deputy told Irish state broadcaster RTE that he is ‘proud’ of his links to the Provisional IRA, according to the Irish Sun newspaper.

Adams then accused the Irish government of criticizing those links in a bid to deflect from day to day politics now that he is a member of the Dublin parliament.

He said, “Some of our opponents, and sections of the media, have used those issues in a despicable way to score points off me and Sinn Fein.

“When I ask the Taoiseach (Prime Minister) why 60,000 citizens have lost their medical cards in the last year, or why 375,000 citizens are on outpatient waiting lists, and then the Taoiseach challenges me on the IRA – that is just nonsensical.

“I have never disassociated myself from the IRA; I am very proud. I don’t think I did everything perfectly. I am a very flawed human being.

“But I am very proud of my involvement in Republican politics and am especially proud that Sinn Fein, with others, has been able to build peace and continues to.

“I spent Christmas with Richard Haas and the other party leaders trying to develop the peace process so it is a bit rich of the Taoiseach when asked questions about health or the environment to raise the issue of the IRA.

“I have asked the Taoiseach for a debate, a rational, reasonable, measured, sensible debate about the past. Let him facilitate that in the Dail (parliament).”

Adams also used the radio interview to defend previous remarks he made about the IRA murder of two Ulster police officers in 1989.

Pat Breen and Bob Buchanan were shot by the Provisionals, but Adams publicly claimed the IRA volunteers were ‘just doing their duty.’

The authorities on both sides of the border are currently investigating the killings and possible garda (Irish police) collusion via the Smithwick tribunal.

Adams told the This Week programme on RTE, “I am very mindful. I have been shot at; family members have been killed; neighbors, friends and comrades have been killed.

“So I am very conscious of the grief of the Breen and Buchanan families, but what I said reflected what the Smithwick Tribunal said.

“I think the garda (police) are getting a very bad deal out of eight years of an investigation where Smithwick made it clear there was no collusion.

“I’ve also said Breen and Buchanan were doing their duties as they saw it, as well as the IRA volunteers.
“Thankfully the war is over so one of the reasons to look at the past is to give victims closure and make sure the mistakes of the past are not repeated.”