A complaint has been reported to police in the Republic of Ireland after former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams made a comment about sheltering an on-the-run IRA suspect in the 1970s.
Mr Adams made the remarks in a video posted to a Sinn Fein Facebook page in tribute to Francis Hughes, one of 10 republicans who went on to die on hunger strike at the Maze Prison in Co Antrim in 1981.
Hughes was wanted by police in Northern Ireland for several months in 1977 after evading capture.
He was arrested in 1978 and later convicted of the murder of a British soldier.
He took part in the republican hunger strike in 1981 and died on May 12 that year, one of 10 prisoners who died in the protest against the prison regime which had declined them political status.
Mr Adams claimed Hughes had stayed at a house with him in Donegal in the Irish Republic when he was on the run from the Northern Ireland authorities.
“When he was on the run, I got this sense of him when myself and Colette, my wife, had rented a house up in Donegal and Francie landed in with us, heard we were about, stayed for a while and full of mischief, messing with the kids and up in the singing pub, always wanting to be part of the banter and the craic,” he said in the video posted on the Bellaghy Sinn Fein Facebook page on May 12.
“This was a young man, full of joy and good fun as well as being a very very committed patriot.
“There were wanted posters with his photos on it scattered across the North, and still in the middle of all of that, he still would go out and try and enjoy a bit of craic with friends and with neighbours.”
Kenny Donaldson, of Innocent Victims United, asked why Mr Adams had not informed the authorities who had been looking for Hughes.
He said a complaint has been made about the comments to An Garda Siochana in the Irish Republic.
“Yesterday evening the PSNI were informed of the video and its contents and a formal complaint was made to An Garda Siochana who will now examine the material to ascertain whether or not they believe any crime has been committed,” he said.
“Gerry Adams is quite clear in what he says, that whilst on the run Francis Hughes stayed with he and his wife in accommodation they had rented in Donegal. Mr Adams surely had responsibility to inform the authorities of Francis Hughes’ whereabouts given that he knew he was on the run at the time.
“The authorities must investigate the content of this tribute film and they must consider whether or not Gerry Adams has breached the law. Mr Adams’ brazen admission surely warrants him to be brought in for questioning. If this does not follow, then many will again pose the question: are certain people within our society beyond the reaches of the law?”
Mr Donaldson criticised the tone of the tribute video as “romanticising” a member of the IRA.
A Sinn Fein spokesperson said Mr Adams was not available for comment.
They added: “Francis Hughes was not on the run in the South.”
A Garda spokesperson confirmed it had received a complaint from a victims’ group, adding: “The contents of this complaint are currently being examined.
“An Garda Síochana has no further comment to make at this time.”