Hundreds attend Sinn Fein rally in support of Gerry Adams

Hundreds of people have attended a rally in west Belfast to demonstrate support for Gerry Adams and his Sinn Fein colleague Bobby Storey after their homes were attacked by dissident republicans.

The two veteran republicans were hugged and clapped by friends and supporters as they attended the Sinn Fein organised event on Monday evening.

Crowds gathered at the site of the former Andersonstown Road barracks to show solidarity with the men, cheering loudly when they addressed the crowds and queuing to have selfies taken with them afterwards.

Mr Adams said he was thankful no one had been hurt in Friday night's attacks, which saw explosive devices hurled at his and Mr Storey's homes.

The former party president delivered a stark message to the dissidents as he addressed the crowds.

"You are either for peace or you are against peace," he said.

"And if you feel there is justification in bombing our house or bombing Theresa and Bobby's house or the other incidents that have taken place then step up and explain yourself, justify your actions, stand over what you have done and explain the rationale behind it."

Mr Storey told the rally he was "overwhelmed" by the turn out.

He said the dissidents would not deflect Sinn Fein's strategy.

"These people need to go back to wherever they come from," he said.

"You see this despair and frustration that they are taking out in their lack of strategy with everyone else, they need to understand from us - we have been at this a very long time, we are on a particular journey, republicanism is developing across the island, we are on a road to a new and modern and united Ireland and nothing will deflect us.

"We haven't been deflected before and they need to get that message."

The men were joined on the podium by Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald and vice president Michelle O'Neill.

Mrs McDonald branded the dissidents "enemies of the people".

"Unlike the cowards who attacked their family homes, Gerry and Bobby are true and fine republicans and they we will stand firm against anyone who attempts to drag us backwards, against anyone who attempts to stop our march to a new united Ireland," she said.

"The people who launched these attack are enemies of the people, they are enemies of the peace, they are enemies who are working against the interests of their own community."

She highlighted that dissident posters had recently been erected saying "Gerry we're not going anywhere".

"Well you got that in one," she added. "You certainly aren't going anywhere.

"So listen up to those who aren't going anywhere, because we aren't going away.

"The stakes are high and the journey is clear and the people of Belfast and Derry and beyond deserve better than mindless thuggery, deserve better than mindless hypocrisy and lack of courage.

"The people of Belfast and Derry and beyond deserve decisive, forward-looking republican leadership and that is what they have in Sinn Fein, in Bobby Storey and in Gerry Adams."

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