Gerry Adams calls on all parties to publicly reject armed groups
SINN Féin president Gerry Adams has said all candidates in next week's assembly elections need to "make clear" their attitudes towards armed paramilitary groupings.
Speaking in west Belfast, Adams said that following the murder of Ardoyne man Michael McGibbon, in a botched paramilitary style shooting by the New IRA, that communities should "stand together" with his widow Joanne in facing down dissidents.
"I want to call upon these groups to go away and I also want to call - given that we're in an assembly election - on every candidate not, just here in west Belfast but every candidate, to state where they stand.
"I think they all have to be very, very clear.
"I do know that some other groups have tactically come together to support others who are standing against Sinn Féin.
"That's a fact here, it's a fact in Derry in Donegal as well, people are entitled to do that, I don't have an issue with that at all but just in the interest of clarity so we have voters making informed choices all of the candidates involved need to make clear".
Assistant Chief Constable Will Kerr told The Irish News recently that the public were still not coming forward with information on paramilitary activity.
Gerry Adams said that police needed to build confidence in nationalist communities.
"People may understandably feel it's very dangerous to make a stand and that is the case if it is left to one person or two people, but if everyone does it, if we all stick together as we've done on many occasions and that includes asking where those who seek public office stand on these issues.
"There's also the record of policing and how political policing was used under the old RUC.
"I've conceded some people may be afraid, and the way to get around that is make sure we don't allow anyone to stand alone, but the other point is the PSNI need to make sure they win public confidence on all of these matters".
And the Sinn Féin leader added:"I call on all political parties and candidates to stand together and publicly reject these groups and call for immediate an end to their actions."
However, Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt hit out at the call by Mr Adams saying journalists had tried for years to get him to "make the type of statement that he now calls on others to make".
He said by previously defending the IRA's actions Sinn Féin had "drawn the road map today's terrorists use to justify their brutal and bloody activities.”