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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 January, 2005, 20:02 GMT
Adams tells republicans 'resist'
Gerry Adams warned republicans to resist discrimination
Gerry Adams warned republicans to resist discrimination
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has said that republicans must be ready to "resist any attempts to discriminate against them".

Speaking about the 26.5m Northern Bank robbery, Mr Adams said Chief Constable Hugh Orde had no evidence to back up his claim that the IRA carried it out.

He warned republicans against "knee-jerk" reactions.

"But be ready to resist any attempts to discriminate against our electorate," Mr Adams added.

'Deeply damaging'

He said resistance should be in the form of "entirely peaceful democratic strategies".

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble said on Thursday that the government would make itself "an object of mirth" to offer republicans "yet another final chance".

"We must draw a line under current experiments and go back to the basics of the agreement and consider, with others, where we go from here," he told party colleagues in Portadown.

Mr Orde said last Friday that he believed the IRA was behind the 26.5m raid on the Northern Bank head office in Belfast on 20 December.

Prime Minister Tony Blair said the chief constable would not have made the claims without evidence.

Northern Ireland Secretary Paul Murphy told the Commons on Tuesday the impact of the bank raid on the political process was "deeply damaging".

He also signalled that the government was still considering alternative forms of devolved administration, such as a voluntary coalition between some unionist and nationalist parties.

It is only through dialogue and inclusivity that we are going to move this forward
Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein President

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern also angered republicans at the weekend whenhe claimed Sinn Fein leaders knew that the raid was an IRA job.

Meanwhile, Conservative Party leader Michael Howard was among MPs who signed an early day motion on Thursday calling for all House of Commons allowances and privileges to be withdrawn from Sinn Fein MPs.

The motion, tabled by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), claimed Sinn Fein could not be treated like a normal democratic party because of its links to the IRA.

The Sinn Fein president told supporters to resist moves to penalise his party.

'Knee-jerk'

Mr Adams said: "If the Governments are going to go in the direction of discriminating against Sinn Fein or to bash Sinn Fein, that leads us with nooption but to defend our position.

"I am saying to republicans: let's not knee-jerk but reflect on the situation.

"But let it be clear we will defend our electorate's rights and entitlement.

"It is only through dialogue and inclusivity that we are going to move this forward."


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