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Last Updated: Friday, 11 February, 2005, 15:37 GMT
Ahern rejects Adams' arrest jibe
Bertie Ahern and Gerry Adams
Happier times - Mr Ahern dismissed the arrest call
Taoiseach Bertie Ahern has dismissed Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams's call to arrest him.

He challenged Mr Ahern to "put up or shut up" after the IMC report backed Mr Ahern's claim Sinn Fein leaders knew the IRA planned the Northern Bank raid.

"The one thing we don't do in our kind of politics is go around picking up people off the streets, that's other political people do that," he said.

He said Sinn Fein could not deny the IRA was involved in crime.

On Thursday, the Independent Monitoring Commission said senior Sinn Fein members were involved in sanctioning robberies including the Northern Bank raid.

The commission's report said the party should bear its share of the blame for a series of robberies and that it should face financial sanctions.

All that we were stating was facts and now the facts have been collaborated by the garda, by the British government, by the PSNI, by everybody, so I mean it's a senseless thing.
Bertie Ahern

Mr Adams challenged the taoiseach and the Irish authorities to arrest him over the bank raid.

"Previously they were saying the IRA was involved, and by dint of membership of the IRA leadership, that some members of Sinn Fein were involved. Now they are saying that Sinn Fein sanctioned this - that is untrue," he said.

In his response on Friday, Mr Ahern said: "Politicians don't collect evidence, that's why I was intrigued by what he said yesterday, but quite frankly, I don't know what he was talking about."

He said Sinn Fein could no longer deny the IRA was involved in ongoing criminality and punishment beatings.

"Letting on that the cigarettes weren't taken or that the drink wasn't taken or the petrol wasn't taken or the punishment beatings didn't happen, sure that's kind of childish stuff.

"All that we were stating was facts and now the facts have been collaborated by the garda, by the British government, by the PSNI, by everybody, so I mean it's a senseless thing.

"What we need to do is put our energy into implementing the Good Friday Agreement for the people. I'm here and ready so, I mean, we should stop being children."

"Clear the air"

A day after making his controversial comments, Mr Adams called for "clear the air talks" with Mr Ahern.

"I am prepared to sit down with the taoiseach today, tomorrow, at any time to try and sort these matters out," he said.

"It is important that, when we get to that point, that genuine dialogue should be conducted in an atmosphere which makes success possible.

"That is one of the reasons why we are so vigorous in defending ourselves from these accusations."

PSNI Chief Constable Hugh Orde's belief the IRA was behind the raid was also backed by the Garda Siochana in the Republic of Ireland.

However, the IRA denies the claims and, last week, it withdrew its offer of complete decommissioning.

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