Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny demanded a meeting with Ahern Sunday, saying he would be quizzing the taoiseach about private meetings he had held with Adams in recent months.
The three men — IRA members Martin McCauley and James Monaghan and Sinn Fein representative to Cuba Niall Connolly — were acquitted in April 2004 of aiding the FARC guerrilla group, but found guilty of entering Colombia with false passports three years earlier. In December, however, their acquittals on explosives training charges were reversed and they were given 17-year sentences by the Superior Court in Bogota.
The whereabouts of the three, who posted bail in June 2004, had been unknown from late last year until they surfaced in Ireland in recent days.
Ahern has denied that the return of the men was part of any deal with Sinn Fein. Republicans have also denied that the issue played any part in recent discussions with the Irish government about the standing down of the IRA.
However suspicions persist that the timing of the men’s return was designed to coincide with the IRA statement of almost two weeks ago.
Kenny said that Ahern had misled the Dail in the past regarding secret talks on the possible release of the killers of Garda Jerry McCabe and that Fine Gael would be seeking clarification on the Taoiseach’s discussions with Sinn Fein.
The Labor Party also went on the offensive. Deputy leader Liz McManus said: “We were told following their decision to jump bail that neither Sinn F