Todays Irish Times large feature article, ‘The Gerry Adams Family’ to mark the opening of Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis shows that the Adams Hunt continues in the Southern media. This section of ‘Resurgence’ (to be published in the summer) deals with that aspect of politics in Ireland:
The Boston College tapes formed a fundamental part in what could be described as the pursuit of Gerry Adams. This long-standing campaign, aimed at undermining the authority and “credibility” of the Sinn Fein Leader, is essentially a political campaign, waged in humanitarian guise, to remove Adams from Southern politics and to undermine Sinn Fein’s advance in the 26 Counties.
The hope is that, if Adams could be replaced as leader of Sinn Fein by a Southern-based person, the all-Ireland nature of the party could be gradually undermined and the party reduced to just another Free Statist radical grouping. In this way the most practical route to a united Ireland could be closed off.
Removing Gerry Adams from active politics would also take out the master strategist who transferred the energy of the Northern fight from the military to the political fields—first in the North and then in the South— and who master-minded a rapid growth in Sinn Fein, bringing it to a position where it could challenge the two major Southern parties.
The publication of the second edition of Ed Moloney’s book ‘A Secret History of the IRA’ in 2007, to coincide with the functional arrangement Sinn Fein was making with the DUP, began the attempt to undermine Adams—despite protestations to the contrary. A year later Moloney published ‘Paisley, From Demagogue to Democrat?’ which attempted to shake the other pillar of the Peace.
A reading of the reviews of Moloney’s book on the IRA that McIntyre published on his website, The Blanket, is enlightening about the origins of the political and media obsession with Adams. In an editorial on the collection of reviews McIntyre assembled in praise of Moloney’s efforts, the former Republican volunteer stated:
“Allegations of previous involvement in war crime, no matter how distant in time, will cause serious concern for any politician with the slightest awareness of the pitfalls of public perception, especially when situated in an ever growing discourse of human rights.”
The objective of the ‘Get Adams’ campaign, that has been taken up by a wide variety of political interests in Ireland, is pretty much summed up in that sentence.
One of the first reviews assembled by McIntyre was one by Jim Cusack, the very anti-Sinn Fein Security Correspondent on the Sunday Independent. Cusack’s article entitled: ‘Exposing Adams’ secrets to the light of day’ states the main allegations that have been levelled at the Sinn Fein Leader were for being “… the man in charge of the IRA in west Belfast when it kidnapped, murdered and secretly buried Jean McConville, and that he was also in charge of the IRA in Belfast on Bloody Friday”. Cusack concedes that “A Secret History of the IRA, unfortunately, does not offer conclusive proof on either issue”. But that does not prevent him from making the allegations.
The killing of Jean McConville was a tragic incident in a War, one of many tragic incidents. The community of which Jean McConville was part recognised her death as a shocking event in a war situation. Single incidents in war do not alter the character of conflicts and wars are not usually judged on the basis of them. There have been many mothers of large families killed in British and US military operations, operations which are supported by the same people who make a point of singling out the death of Jean McConville.
Cusack is followed in McIntyre’s selection by Prof. Patterson, former Official Republican, adviser to Trimble, and Unionist academic. The article ‘How Clever Was Adams?’ in which the answer is too clever by half is republished from Fortnight Magazine of October, 2007. Patterson also concedes that:
“Moloney provides no evidence… However he (Moloney) does emphasise the degree to which… botched or betrayed operations greatly assisted the progress of Adams’ pursuit of his ‘secret peace process’ with the London and Dublin governments.”
Also in McIntyre’s selection of witnesses bearing testimony against Adams is Prof. Bew. McIntyre describes his former mentor thus: “Paul Bew is the Professor of Irish Politics at Queen’s University, Belfast. This article first ran in the Daily Telegraph and is carried here with permission from the author”. The title is: ‘At Last We Know the Human Cost of Gerry Adams’:
“Today, Gerry Adams presents himself as a folksy, slightly pompous avuncular figure in Irish politics: a moralist who chides the politicians in Dublin for their embarrassingly corrupt ways… Mr Adams emerges from… A Secret History of the IRA… smelling like a rotten cabbage. If the author of the book—an award-winning Irish journalist—is to be believed, Mr Adams knew about the killing of Jean McConville, the widowed mother of 10 children who was murdered by the IRA in 1972… But even now, is there any hard proof against the Sinn Fein president? Mr. Moloney relies heavily on a range of interviews with republican activists, many of whom, it will be said, have an axe to grind against the leader who brilliantly manipulated them to the point where the IRA campaign ended without achieving its stated objective of British withdrawal from Ireland. All that could be said here with certainty is that Mr. Moloney presents the evidence by means of relentless accumulation of precise detail that may convince many readers. Some of the naive liberals who got on the Adams bandwagon in recent years will be shocked… Ulster Unionists will be less shocked. They have never believed anything other than that Mr. Adams is a bad man, and a bad man who compounds his badness by endless displays of slippery hypocrisy. David Trimble will, however, add that, while Mr. Moloney’s book proves that Mr. Adams is a troublesome and dishonest adversary, there is little alternative to dealing with him as the leader of a formidable section of Northern nationalist opinion… Irish republicans, or rather those Irish republicans who sincerely believed in the project of the ‘Republic’, will be appalled. For such people, the moral price of this squalid war was only worth paying if the end result was the triumph of their particular political vision. Instead, they have witnessed a new ethnic bargain, one available in most essentials since the mid-1970s, which has revised Stormont, albeit along power-sharing and Irish dimension lines… Mr. Moloney’s real achievement is to remind us of the human cost of the ‘Troubles’ and the policy of human sacrifice pursued for so long by Mr Adams and his colleagues at surprisingly little risk to their own lives…”
Again, the important factual sentences in this piece are: “But even now, is there any hard proof against the Sinn Fein president? Mr. Moloney relies heavily on a range of interviews with republican activists, many of whom, it ￼￼￼will be said, have an axe to grind against the leader.” Prof. Bew buries this fact beneath a pile of unsubstantiated accusations from Adams’ political enemies with political axes to grind. And his intention seems to be to cultivate a great and one-sided moralism in the minds of Republican die-hards in order that they do down their former comrade in the interests of Ulster Unionism.
From all the accusations and abuse levelled at Adams we should conclude that he is an extraordinary man, apparently almost single-handedly waging a 28 Year War on the British, commanding IRA units across the city, ‘disappearing’ people who stood in his way, sending forth his comrades to lay waste to Belfast and its civilians and not being satisfied with his handiwork, single-mindedly deciding to call a halt to his War, deceiving his old comrades, having some of them killed by the Brits, whilst all along engaging in secret, shady dealings with Charlie Haughey and British Intelligence. And the only thing the powerful and well-resourced British Justice system could ever lay on him was escaping from their Internment. Mick Collins really had nothing on the man!
“Unlike Hume, Adams was a team-player, with the discipline that comes with having to consult your immediate colleagues about both strategy and tactics.” That estimation comes from an unexpected source, Ruth Dudley Edwards, writing in the Sunday Independent (3.1.16). It is also very true.
There was a great “manipulator” about all this time, and his name was John Hume. Hume from the beginning worked behind the back of his party colleagues and of his leader, following his own agenda. He spied for Dublin as the SDLP was being established; he plotted with Taoiseach Lynch to destroy Stormont behind the back of his party leader; he was consulted with regard to the Hillsborough Treaty whilst keeping his colleagues in the dark; he consorted with Adams, acting independently of the party of which he was leader to bring about the settlement he had personally in mind. He frustrated his party colleagues in their devolutionary desires and facilitated an Agreement between the mortal political enemy, Sinn Fein, and the British, which had the effect of undermining his own party.
That is not a criticism of Hume. It is high praise. But it is amazing that such a blind spot exists in those who line up to condemn Adams for something that they have not chosen to say about Hume.
The next thing we need to deal with is the use of Sex as a Political Weapon. Sexual impropriety and how it is dealt with is the political weapon of today. A significant part of the pursuit of Adams involved allegations of sexual abuse made against Republicans. Sex abuse allegations have long been used by ￼￼￼the British State during the conflict. There has been little concern for the victims of such abuse. What has been of concern to the security apparatus is how knowledge of sexual abuse could be employed to recruit informers—whether they were paedophiles, rapists or murderers—or be used to undermine the opposition to ‘Northern Ireland’. The last thing that was desired was that victims should use the criminal justice system to get justice—since that would expose the perpetrators of such acts, who the Intelligence services would no longer have any leverage over.
A number of attempts were made during 2013-15 to implicate the Sinn Fein Leader personally and the Republican Movement generally, in cases of sex abuse. And this presented an opportunity for the State to arrest Republicans who had made honest attempts to get to the bottom of accusations of such crimes and to deal with them in the absence of a legitimate State legal apparatus.
By this time it had been demonstrated in the 26 Counties how sex abuse could seriously damage some of the main institutions of Nationalist Ireland, particularly the Catholic Church. All the main political parties of the Southern State, along with the Gardai, were in some way culpable for letting this abuse go unexposed and unpunished over generations. Only Sinn Fein, having never held power in Dublin, was completely innocent. But a model had been established and the cultivation of moral panic was seen to have the potential to achieve what normal political argument could not, in stemming the Sinn Fein tide in the South.
Many of these attempts to discredit Sinn Fein, and its leader in particular, followed on from TV documentaries. There was once a time when these documentaries exposed dark State activities to the benefit of democracy. However, the subsequent generation of ‘investigative journalists’ seems to have been ‘turned’, to give service to the State instead. A difference between a trial and a TV programme is that there are no Rules of Evidence on TV and only as much cross-examination as the producer desires there to be. The producer is judge, jury and executioner rolled into one. Assertions are treated as facts and there is less justice than in the celebrated Show Trials of the past. Impression and emotion replaces reality.
The major features of this process were: trial by media, directed not at the perpetrators of the alleged crimes but at those who had made attempts to deal with them; a complete ignoring of the ordinary standard of ‘innocent until proved guilty’; the smearing of the Republican movement with the paedophile demon, an obsession of ‘post-modern’ society; moral judgements made against Republicans for their inadequacy in dealing with issues that the major institutions of the Irish State had spectacularly failed in dealing with themselves with every service of a modern state available to them in peaceful, stable conditions; and above all, to pin everything, ultimately on the prime target of their political campaign—the Leader of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams.
￼￼￼In the most startling incident, despite the fact that Adams actually gave evidence against an alleged abuser—his own brother—in a trial at Belfast, he was effectively made the defendant by the media. The anti-Adams political/media alliance quickly concentrated their efforts on putting Adams on trial, rather than his brother and there was liberal use of the word ‘Paedophile’ in newspaper headlines next to the words ‘Adams’, ‘Sinn Fein’, ‘IRA’. The same formula, pioneered by the salacious British tabloid press, was used subsequently during the Mairia Cahill allegations (e.g. ‘Are IRA’s rapists and paedophiles still here?’, in relation to an alleged Republican practice of expelling alleged sex offenders to the South: IN 23.10.14).
The Republican die-hards, out to get Adams, devised a case against the Sinn Fein leader based on his cross-examination at his brother’s first trial by the Defence barrister employed by his brother. It was suggested that Adams gave perjured evidence in support of his niece and against his brother, bearing out their contention that lying was second nature to him. By deception he took control of the Republican War effort, and by deception he entangled it in the Peace Process, from which it could not escape. And now, it was alleged, he had been shown under oath to be a liar.
However, if there was a plausible legal case that Adams had withheld information from the police in breach of law, or that he gave perjured evidence, then he would have been prosecuted. Powerful interests in North and South would have loved to bring him down and would have taken such an opportunity. But they obviously couldn’t.
A wide range of political opponents thereafter attempted to make political capital out of this personal family tragedy, including senior figures in Fianna Fail and the Dublin media, as well as Unionists. This bizarre and incongruous grand alliance against Adams, fed by widely conflicting motives, could only be seen as farcical but for the fact of its actual existence and the common purpose of the participants.
Following the political pressure and newspaper campaigns, four official agencies in ‘Northern Ireland’ started investigating whether Adams had a case to answer about withholding information about his brother from the police. But apparently no findings emerged and, if things go true to form, there will presumably be little reporting that all the efforts that were trumpeted across the media to discredit the Sinn Fein Leader came to nothing in the end.
In late 2014 the Mairia Cahill case followed a similar pattern. She was from an influential Republican family, had been a member of Sinn Fein for a number of years, even after she had made serious sexual allegations against a Republican. She had decided, after leaving Sinn Fein and joining a dissident group, that she had failed to get the justice she wanted from Republicans, and turned to the British justice system. However, bizarrely, the State relegated to a secondary position her complaints—along with those of other women— against the alleged abuser, in order to charge republicans who had conducted investigations at the request of the victims with IRA membership (IN 2.11.14).
When presented with social crime of this kind, it was customary for the RUC to give priority to its war on the IRA, as opposed to protecting indivi- duals. The actions of the PSNI in this instance was a continuation of that policy. This threw the communities back on their own resources.
Catholics in the North were aware that the community in the North had little means to deal with social crime. After August 1969, it was forced into constructing a rudimentary alternative State apparatus behind the barricades because of the absence of a normal State. This apparatus existed prior to the formation of the Republican Army and was acting independently of it when the IRA emerged.
It was not the Republican Army that suspended the normal due process of law in ‘Northern Ireland’. That had already been done by the State through the Special Powers Act (1922), The Detention of Terrorists Act (1972), The Emergency Powers Act (1973) etc.—not to mention illegal activities by the State’s forces and the refusal of the State to hold its enforcers to account when they transgressed the law. It was within this framework of law, or its absence, that the Republican Army conducted its impromptu judicial functions and maintained a kind of order in communities which were No- Go areas for the police.
The Republican Army certainly acted the part of a State in certain areas of the North, acting as peace-maker in local disputes as well as war-maker on the State. It did not fight a War and let things run wild in its hinterland. It kept the peace within its area. What the State would not do, the Provos found it necessary to do for their community. They began to act as the State, less as usurpers of the State (which they would have liked to be able to do), but more in the absence of the State. And there is certainly a good deal of nostalgia in Catholic areas for the times when Republican policing kept the areas relatively crime-free.
During the offensive against the Sinn Fein Leader and his party in the South, The Irish Times revealed the main interest the Dublin media had in these victims of abuse:
“Much of the media focus has been on Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin. Just as it was last year in the case of Áine Tyrell, and just as it was in the case of Jean McConville earlier this year. At stake is Adams’s credibility. Last November questions were asked about when and what the Sinn Féin president knew after his brother Liam was sentenced to 16 years in prison for raping his daughter, Áine. In April and May this year more questions were raised about what the Sinn Féin president knew about the 1972 IRA murder of Jean McConville after he was questioned by the PSNI at Antrim station. Now questions are being asked about what Adams knew about the alleged rape and interrogation of Maíria Cahill. Questions are also being raised about how the republican movement dealt internally with IRA sexual abuse. As with the Catholic Church, it is asked, did the IRA “institution” come before the victims?” (Gerry Moriarty, ‘Maíria Cahill: unanswered questions. Will other victims come forward? Will there be lasting damage to Adams? And who do we believe? 25.10.14).
The principal thing driving the ‘Get Adams’ campaign in the South was the fear of a Northern contamination of the cosy Partitionist Southern body politic. Adams went South to capture the Louth seat and the people put a Northerner in the Dail. But Adams as the leader of an all-Ireland party crossed the line which no Northern Catholic is supposed to cross—unless they have become harmless, and fully integrated cogs of the party system of the South, like Frank Aiken and Austin Currie.
Adams, in coming South, was confronting the 26 Counties with the fact that the issue of the Northern Catholics was not put to bed in 1925 or indeed 1998 and that there was still unfinished business in the North. Jack Lynch is praised by all shades in the South for having kept the North at bay but the presence of Adams and the rise of Sinn Fein in the Opinion Polls was a sharp reminder that Lynch failed.
The North was allowed to stew in its own juices but refused to continue there in perpetuity. And so the Southern political Establishment and its media pulled out all the stops to remove Adams from the scene before the centenary of 1916, which they would have liked to commemorate without much thought about embarrassing matters outstanding.
Even though the Southern Establishment has an inkling that it is playing with fire, and at moments of impending crisis fears the consequences of what it does by way of destabilising the North with its reckless attacks on republican leaders, a fear which makes it stop short of destroying what it helped to put in place, it does not seem to be able to stop itself pushing towards the brink.
There is a complete absence from the Irish National press of any public- ation sympathetic to the predicament of the Northern Catholic community. Such sympathy is seen by the social stratum that produces the media as sympathy with Sinn Fein.
The fact that Sinn Fein was produced out of the situation in which the
￼￼￼Northern Catholic community was placed, not by Partition as such, but by the political arrangements made by Britain as the means of enacting Partition and maintaining it, is denied. The implications of admitting it are too awful to contemplate for those in control of the media. This is an issue which goes beyond careerism and is connected to the basic orientation of the State. It is a remarkable fact that there is no mainstream media organisation which fully reflects the true national interests of the Irish state. There was one newspaper in the past which represented native Ireland, the Irish Press. It was brought down in 1995 and has not been replaced. Martin O Muilleoir, the Belfast publisher, attempted to establish a newspaper on an all-Ireland basis, but was blackguarded by the Southern Establishment, with the Progressive Democrat Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, in the lead. It started publication in January 2005 and closed down in September 2006.
In the Irish media dispassionate description of British political conduct, whether in ‘Northern Ireland’ or in the world, is put down as Anglophobia, a product of the bad old world of backward, independent Ireland. A phobia is defined as a groundless, irrational fear or hatred of something. But, in Dublin a strictly accurate, rational and factual account of how Britain managed the Six Counties is decreed to be Anglophobic and not helpful. In short, the truth cannot be told in Dublin about the North because the truth might be of benefit to Sinn Fein. So the conflict ‘up there’ needs to be presented as a campaign of murder and mayhem against lawful activity.
That Britain is not responsible for the political condition of the ‘Northern Ireland’ region of its State is held as an article of faith, in defiance of all fact and reason. But, if that is the case, it rules out all understanding of the problem and all effective solution. The problem is presented as being the Provos— who didn’t actually come into existence until 50 years after ‘Northern Ireland’ came into the world on the whim of Whitehall—and, in recent years at least, they have been much more part of the solution than the problem.
The fear in Dublin that Sinn Fein was gaining traction in the South produced a pulling together of the ‘Civil War’ parties against the threat of the Northern hordes. Some even came out for a realignment of the established party system as an emergency front against Sinn Fein, rather like the one against Fascism mooted in the 1930s. Micheál Martin, as Leader of Fianna Fail, made a number of highly-publicised attacks on Sinn Fein in company with elements who had regarded Fianna Fail in the same light not so long before. “Martin claims SF and Provisional Movement sullied the name of Republicanism” was the headline in The Irish Times (22.4.13) above the following:
“Mr Martin asserted that if people wanted to know where the men and women of 1916 would have stood in later years, they would find out by looking at what they did: taking the route of constitutional republicanism.”
￼￼￼But surely that—“taking the route of constitutional republicanism”—is actually what Adams is being damned for by Martin’s die-hard allies in the ‘Get Adams’ coalition: Which only goes to expose the bizarre alliance between unconstitutional die-hards and Constitutional Nationalism and reveals the multi-dimensional character of the campaign against Sinn Fein.
The Fianna Fail Leader launched a full-scale assault on Sinn Fein in April 2015 using RTE’s Late Late Show and a double page interview in the Sunday Business Post to suggest that the Northerners were seeking to “undermine the very institutions of the state” (19.4.15). Martin then went on to devout half his speech at the Fianna Fail commemoration on Arbour Hill to lambasting Sinn Fein, saying the party was “unfit for participation in democratic republican government” (IT 20.4.15). Martin’s attack won praise from Eoghan Harris in the Sunday Independent (26.4.15).
It is evident that Constitutional Fianna Fail finds it very difficult to deal with Constitutional Sinn Fein without disowning its own history. Astonish- ment at Martin’s behaviour towards Sinn Fein even reached the Irish Times. Eugene McEldowney (admittedly a Northerner) wrote:
“His attacks on Sinn Fein smack of opportunism and desperation. They also reveal a woeful ignorance of his own party’s early history… His remarks show he is rattled by the advances Sinn Fein is making on the Fianna Fail base. And he is right to be worried. Whole swathes of voters have already gone over to Sinn Fein and more are expected. Martin is getting bad advice from someone…” (IT 31.10.15).
The peaceful transition from Treatyite to Anti-Treatyite government in the South in 1932 was accomplished peacefully because of the backing of a well-organised and highly-motivated IRA—which had not surrendered a decade earlier but had merely dumped arms. This provided Fianna Fail with military protection against the Treatyites, whose own official military expression had declined since the Treaty War and who were developing Fascist pretensions to prevent those it accused of being “Communists” obtaining power. The fact that no armed attempt was made to prevent the IRA/Fianna Fail ‘Communists’ from taking power must surely have been because of the military backing behind the Anti-Treatyites, which could come into play if the democratic process was not honoured—rather than any Blueshirt commitment to democracy. Does Martin really forget all of this?
The Fianna Fail leader might just ponder on something Kevin Boland said:
“I think it is clear from our history that there must always be a Republican Party… and that, if Fianna Fail ceases to be the Republican Party, whether through the assertion of mere pragmatists or through its leaders succumbing to the lure of office, then there will be a vacuum which will have to be filled” (Voice of the North, 18.11.70).
￼￼￼The following week, speaking at the Royal College of Surgeons (Dublin), Adams replied to the Fianna Fail leader’s attacks at Arbour Hill. The Sinn Fein leader told Martin:
“Let there be no doubt about it, war is terrible. All war. War is desperate. And those of us who have lived through the recent conflict are the ones who have worked to ensure that the conflict is ended for good, and that we never— none of us, ever—go back there again. That’s why Sinn Fein is and was pivotal to the peace process. So those of us… who have come from commun- ities that were ravaged by conflict… don’t need lectures from Micheal Martin or anyone else about conflict. We have been there. Let me say this: Republicans did not go to war: the war came to us… Micheal Martin needs to wake up and realise that the war is over…” (Deaglan de Breadun, Power Play—The Rise of modern Sinn Fein, pp. 18-19)
Another manifestation of the attempt to stem Sinn Fein has been a rather obvious attempt to create the impression that Sinn Fein’s political prospects were hindered in the South by keeping their “toxic” Northern Leader, with the hope that the naïve come-lately Southern Shinners could be persuaded to give up Adams for another who would be more malleable by the 26 County State. This element of the ‘Get Adams’ campaign involves the working up of an antagonism within Sinn Fein against their Leader to get him replaced by somebody from the South who can be ‘house-trained’.
However, there is not the slightest suggestion that there is any part of the Republican movement, the voters of Louth or the Northern Catholic community generally, that views Adams as a liability—precisely the opposite is the case.
Adams was somewhat insulated from the on-going campaign to under- mine him by the death of Nelson Mandela. In December 2013 the Sinn Fein Leader formed part of the Guard of Honour at the funeral of Mandela—the ultimate peacemaker. The ANC had fraternal links with Sinn Fein over decades and a military alliance with the IRA. Kader Asmal revealed in his memoirs, ‘Politics in my Blood’, how the IRA helped carry out a spectacular coup de main against one of the South African regime’s most important strategic installations, an oil refinery at Sasolburg in 1980. This was the most significant military blow against the Apartheid regime and it was facilitated by Asmal, Adams and Michael O’Riordan, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland. It involved IRA training of MK cadres as well as reconnaissance of the target by Irish Republicans (See Manus O’Riordan, Irish Political Review, January 2014).
In 1990, on a visit to Dublin, Mandela shocked the Dublin and London Establishments, along with their respective medias, by continually insisting that Britain should be negotiating with Sinn Fein, without preconditions, to end the conflict in Ireland. In 1998, when a deal had been concluded, Cyril Ramaphosa, who led the ANC in its war on the white supremacist Government of South Africa, assisted the Republican leadership in selling the peace agreement to its rank and file in the Republican heartlands.
The pursuit of Adams will not abate. Todays Irish Times article “The Gerry Adams Family” to mark the start of Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis is proof of that.