Northern Ireland news

Veteran republican makes allegation of IRA membership against Gerry Adams

Des Long (right) claimed Gerry Adams was in the IRA 

A veteran republican has alleged he sat opposite former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams at IRA meetings, claiming: "You don't get to be on the army council unless you're a volunteer."

The allegation that Mr Adams was not only in the IRA but a member of its ruling army council is made by Des Long in the BBC series Spotlight On The Troubles: A Secret History.

The Louth TD and former West Belfast MP has always denied being a member of the IRA.

Sinn Féin did not cooperate in the making of the documentary and Long parted ways with mainstream republicans in 1986.

A number of squandered opportunities to bring peace to Northern Ireland are also documented in the second episode of the Spotlight series, to be screened tonight.

They include talks in 1972 between the British government and IRA at the home of Sir Michael McCorkell in Ballyarnett, just 400 yards from the border on the outskirts of Derry.

The programme details a record kept by Lady Aileen McCorkell which has never before been made public.

Read More: Gerry Adams tells Ballymurphy inquest 'I was not a member of the IRA'

Former priest Denis Bradley also tells how he would transport IRA leader Billy McKee to the Republic for secret meetings with a delegation of Protestant Churchmen, acting as conduits for the British government, using his father's driving licence to get him across the border.

Gerry Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA

The only surviving member of the delegation, Rev Ralph Baxter, was forced to move to Canada after the UDA threatened to kill him for participating in talks at a time when sectarian tit-for-tat attacks were taking place across the north.

He speaks of having then Labour prime minister Harold Wilson's "blessing" to speak to the republican leadership.

Read More: Gerry Adams says he understands pain felt by victims of IRA

Further archive footage is also shown of IRA bombing missions, shot in 1972 for the US documentary The Secret Army.

It includes a bomb being loaded in a car that later exploded at the sports hall at Queen's University Belfast.

An image of Des Long from the BBC series Spotlight On The Troubles: A Secret History

Meetings of the IRA led by Seamus Twomey are also shown, along with footage from 'Free Derry', with gunmen filmed shooting automatic rifles at a helicopter.

The first episode of the seven-part series included archive footage of Martin McGuinness as part of an IRA bomb unit and claims that the late Rev Ian Paisley funded a UVF bomb intended to help bring down the Stormont government, a claim his family has strongly denied.

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