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Adams named as ‘Commanding Officer’

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Jack Holland

A convicted IRA bomber has said that the Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams was "my commanding officer" at the time of the bombing. Dolours Price, who with her sister Marion was convicted of involvement in a four car-bomb attack on London on March 8, 1973, made the claim at a republican event in February, according to witnesses. Also convicted for the same offenses were Hugh Feeney and Gerard Kelly, who is now a prominent member of Sinn Fein.

Two of the car bombs exploded, one outside the offices of New Scotland Yard and the other near the Central Criminal Court at the Old Bailey. One man died of a heart attack and 180 were injured in what was the Provisional IRA’s first bombing attack in England.

Price made the controversial remarks during a speech on Feb. 11 at a ceremony to mark the 25th anniversary of the death of hunger striker Frank Stagg in Ballina, Co. Mayo.

Price had asked to speak because, she said, like Stagg, both she and her sister had endured a hunger strike in 1973 and ’74. Witnesses say that she discarded her script and said she would "speak from the heart."

Price attacked high-ranking members of Sinn Fein who now dissociate themselves from the IRA. According to Ruairi O Bradaigh, the president of Republican Sinn Fein, who attended the event, she said that it was "too much" to listen to people now saying they weren’t in the IRA.

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"Gerry Adams was my commanding officer," Price said.

Adams has repeatedly denied he was a member of the IRA at any time. Most famously, on RTE’s "Late Late Show," he once claimed that during the early Troubles his role was no more than that of a stone thrower and later a political activist. It has been widely alleged that during that period he was actually officer commanding of the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA and that he later went on to head the Provisional IRA’s Northern Command, with a place on the organization’s ruling body, the Army Council.

Price and her sister were subjected to forcible feeding while imprisoned. According to a report in Saoirse, a Republican Sinn Fein newspaper, Dolours Price said she "did not endure the pangs of hunger strike just for a reformed English rule in Ireland." She attacked the current republican leadership for having gone back on "all the hunger strikers had died for."

At the time of the bombings, Marion was 19 and Dolours 22. Dolours was said to have been in charge of the actual operation. At the time, according to reliable authorities, Adams was O/C of the Belfast Brigade and remained so until his arrest in July 1973.

The Price sisters became a cause celebre in the North during their hunger strike. They finally won the right to serve their sentence in a Northern Irish jail. Kelley was later transferred to Long Kesh as one of the conditions for the Provisional IRA cease-fire of 1974-75. He escaped from the Maze in September 1983, but was later rearrested.

A Sinn Fein spokesman in Belfast said the party would have no comment to make until leaders knew what actually happened in Ballina.

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