Row intensifies between Sinn Féin & the Irish Government

Thursday, January 27, 2005 The row between the Irish Government and Sinn Féin intensified today with Gerry Adams accusing the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern of attacking Sinn Féin in order to divert attention from the jailing of disgraced former Minister for Justice Ray Burke.

Burke, who is a former Fianna Fáil minister, began a six-month prison sentence earlier this week for tax offences.

Speaking in London on the eve of his meeting with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the Sinn Féin President said Bertie Ahern had 'cleverly defused the Ray Burke affair by opening up a full frontal attack on Sinn Féin'.

Mr Adams said that attack was driven by political considerations because the Government had decided that little progress could be made in the Northern Ireland peace process in the next few months.

Referring to yesterday's heated exchanges in Dáil Éireann between Mr Ahern and Sinn Féin TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, Mr Adams said, 'We want to do business with the Taoiseach, but he can't expect to attack us in the way that he does and for us not to robustly defend ourselves.