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Tuesday, 15 March 2005
Page: 133

Senator McGAURAN (9:28 PM) —I rise to speak in the Senate this evening against any future visits to Australia by the Sinn Fein leader, Mr Gerry Adams. I do acknowledge that Mr Adams can now freely travel to this country and I do not suggest that that right be taken away. But it is worth noting that it was once not the case. Mr Adams was barred from entry into this country, and for very good reason. He was an associate of terrorists, which made him one by association. However, given that he is entitled to enter Australia, what should happen is that he should not be made welcome either officially or by good and right-minded people who seek peace and the settlement of the Northern Ireland question. I am prompted to say this after an article that appeared in the Australian today. It begins by saying:

Australia’s Irish community will push ahead with plans for a fundraising visit by Gerry Adams or another senior Sinn Fein figure, despite a move by the US to ban fundraising by the IRA’s political arm.

Irish community leaders have warned the Howard Government of a political backlash if it followed the US.

The article goes on to say that the US:

... has lost patience with Sinn Fein over the alleged involvement of the IRA in the $63 million robbery at an Australian-owned bank and the brutal murder of Catholic man Robert McCartney outside a Belfast public.

The article says:

Australian fundraising activities are centred on regular visits from senior Sinn Fein figures. The major fundraising groups are the Sydney-based Australian Aid for Ireland, with branches in Queensland and South Australia, the Melbourne-based Casement Group and the Perth-based Friends of Sinn Fein.

The article quotes Paddy Gorman, the spokesman for Australian Aid for Ireland, saying:

Any decision by Canberra to follow the US move would be strongly opposed by Australia’s large Irish community.

The article goes on to say:

“There is a long historical association between Ireland and Australia and support for Sinn Fein is part of that,” he said.

‘He’ being Paddy Gorman. Any decent Irishman would disassociate himself with the comments of Paddy Gorman that Australia’s long association with Ireland in any respect includes that of Sinn Fein. Mr Gorman may well hold those views himself, but I can inform the Senate that, contrary to Mr Gorman’s threat, the Irish community would not strongly oppose the freezing out of Mr Adams when or should he visit Australia.

Just like the growing public opinion in Ireland and the US, Sinn Fein and Mr Adams are truly on the nose. Any Celtic or Irish club member or president worth their salt will not entertain Mr Adams on their premises and would reject his visit—now more than ever, given that we have a far more heightened distaste for terrorism. The IRA and Sinn Fein’s association with the IRA should be utterly rejected, as it is being rejected in Ireland itself. The hope of any final settlement of the Irish question is not with Mr Adams. The truth is that he and his IRA association have held up peace for at least the last three decades.

Mr Gorman embarrasses the Irish community when he makes such statements and such threats and purports to speak as a leader of the Irish community. But, worse than that, he slaps in the face the family of murdered Robert McCartney. As we all know, Mr Robert McCartney, a 33-year-old father of two, was beaten and stabbed to death outside a busy Belfast bar on 30 January by a group of known IRA members. That incident sparked the family, particularly Robert McCartney’s sisters, to move a nation to condemn the once intimidating IRA. The Robert McCartney incident followed the bank heist undertaken by the IRA—regardless of how much they seek to reject that robbery. I welcome—as we all should welcome—President Bush’s and Prime Minister Blair’s rejection of Sinn Fein’s story and their refusal to deal with them at all.

The truth is that the provisional IRA long ago wandered from the principles of their origins. For me, that at least dates back to the 1980s and the time of the Bobby Sands incident. They are mindless thugs, involved in murder, assassination and terror. They bomb the innocent and kill and intimidate their very own civilian public—and that includes priests, nuns, women and children. They run arms, they rob banks, they take people’s money, they train other terrorists and there are drug cartels in South America—and I believe they are most likely tied up in the drug trade themselves.

I say this as a person of pure Irish origin. I, like all of us, seek resolution to the Irish troubles, and I do not turn a blind eye to the Unionist Party’s activities—the orange version of the green IRA—or, for that matter, some of the appalling and cruel history of the British occupation; for example, the potato famine, if you want to go back that far. However, the IRA have no moral ground to stand on, and they and anyone who supports the IRA must be treated as absolute pariahs—Mr Adams included. Mr Adams is a man of cunning words and blatant lies and he should be condemned for his links with terror and should be rejected by the Irish community in Australia.

The jig is up for the IRA. We have laws in this country against terrorism, and we ought to apply them to the IRA. They are no better than any other group on the proscribed list we have in this country of terrorist organisations, and we ought to seriously consider putting the IRA on that list. That would make fundraising activities held in this country for Sinn Fein—an organisation which ought to be outlawed because of their association with the terrorist group, the IRA—illegal.