Alleged meeting between Irish priest and ETA leaders

Irish priest Alec Reid, an advisor to both Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Fein, and Ibarretxe, leader of the Basque nationalist party PNV, met with ETA leaders last year according to Spanish newspaper El Mundo.

The paper alleges that Reid, who played a key role in the peace talks between the British and Irish governments and Sinn Fein in the nineties, went to France last Autumn following the arrest of ETA leader Mikel Albizu in October 2004. According to El Mundo, Father Reid stayed at Belloch Monastry, the same place visited by French police last week to question the monk Marcel Etxandi in relation to his possible ties with ETA. Father Reid is alleged to have held conversations there with the newly appointed leaders of the Basque terrorist group.

A spokesman of the Vizcaya diocesis has confirmed that Father Reid stayed in the monastry in Autumn, that Reid often visits the Basque Region and that when he does, the Catholic Church put an official, chauffeur-driven car at his disposal to facilitate his movements.

Father Reid is one of Basque President Ibarretxe’s key advisors, something which is said to displease some leaders of the political wing of Eta who claim that Father Reid is more inclined to be sympathetic to the opinions and policies of Ibarretxe, rather than more radical nationalist demands and means.

Father Reid is also one of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adam’s key advisors, and has prepared a visit by Adams to Spain which will take place in the next few days. During his visit, Adams will meet with Ibarretxe and also with Arnaldo Otego, spokesman for Batasuna, the political wing of ETA which was banned from taking part in elections by the Spanish government two years ago.