Gerry Adams, memory man

Danny Morrison dilates on failing memories and sportingly includes his old mucker. Can the sharp witted Danny have forgotten the elephant in the room? Don’t all shout at once..

“I have known Gerry for almost forty years and there is no way would I ever enter him for a ‘Memory Man’ competition

Adams said: “It isn’t a sin, a crime or an offence to forget about something”, and he reminded unionists that they had done a lot of forgetting about their shadowy pasts and links with loyalist paramilitaries.”

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  • Pete Baker

    About that elephant, Brian – “You know the truth..”

    And some other relevant posts from the archive.

    Sinn Féin’s difficulty with describing the-then present – “I can’t see anything”

    And from Johann Hari’s interview of Adams – “again, he names them, but for legal reasons I can’t.”

    Adams will talk freely about the period up to 1968, and the period after 1998. But when I ask about the 30-year gap in between, his flowing sentences often dry into staccato clichés. Did you do anything in this conflict you later regretted? “Well, I didn’t have to do things, but I do think that there are actions that were carried out, and not even retrospectively, but at the time, that I knew instinctively were wrong, and were surely wrong, and where I could, I said so. I either said so privately, or I said so publicly, if that was the appropriate thing to do.” It is an answer designed to shut down the issue, rather than open it up – an attempt to seal the memory dump with steel. [added emphasis]

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    It would have been much simpler for SF if they had employed a system similar to that used by the state ie simply slap a secrecy ban on all matters concerning insurgent activities for 10, 20, 50 or 70 years – as suits themselves.

    Certainly would have made life easier for Gerry and he could have just quoted party rules and kept schtum.

  • Turgon

    Gerry Adams claims to have forgotten things when it is convenient for him to have forgotten them. The classic example being his contacts with his brother. He also remembers things which did not happen; such as singing “Always look on the Bright side of Life”in gaol or being in gaol when Jean McConville was murdered.

    So frail is Adams’s memory that it is surprising that he has any confidence in his ability to remember the details of his alleged mistreatment at the hands of the security forces: does he not think he might have misremembered them? Even his non membership of the IRA is a problem. Since his memory is so fallible is it possible that he has forgotten joining them?

    So poor is Adams (and indeed McGuinness’s memory) that the republican movement will soon have to stop calling for a Truth Commission as they will not be able to remember anything bad that republicans ever did and hence,a Truth Commission would be pointless. Or maybe that is just another example of the convenience of a poor memory.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    Apologies for the cross-subject-ambush – but what’s your take on the DUP’s failure to get the Orange Order to run with the parade legislation and the opportunity it offers Mr Allister – are you likley to produce a Turgonesque analyis?

  • Turgon

    Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit,
    see above

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


  • slug

    It is hard for one to imagine oneself forgetting that one ran the IRA.

  • slug

    Sadly thousands of other people are but a memory as a result of his misdemeanours in the field of terrorism.

  • tacapall

    We all forget stuff now and again and I wont disagree with most of what Turgon says but its a case of the pot calling the kettle black

    “The Nationalist majority in the county, i.e., Fermanagh, notwithstanding a reduction of 336 in the year, stands at 3,684. We must ultimately reduce and liquidate that majority. This county, I think it can be safely said, is a Unionist county. The atmosphere is Unionist. The Boards and properties are nearly all controlled by Unionists. But there is still this millstone [the Nationalist majority] around our necks.”
    E.C. Ferguson, Unionist Party, then Stormont MP, April 1948
    Later resigned from Parliament in October 1949 to become Crown Solicitor for County Fermanagh.
    Reported in: Irish News, 13 April 1948

    “We must ultimately reduce and liquidate that majority”. Now what do you think he means by that Turgon.

  • Turgon

    I do not condone comments like Ferguson’s indeed I condemn them. It would be great if republicans condemned the murders of the past let alone unpleasant and unacceptable comments.

    Whatever Ferguson meant by it he did not run an organisation which murdered almost 2000 people.

  • tacapall

    Yes of course you’re right Turgon about those who did things that can be described as indefensible being honest about their involvement or even membership of a group that carried it out, condemning it and acknowledging the wrong. Indeed we could go back to the 20s and the belfast progroms where such incidents were not uncommon from both sides of the divide and in fact were sometimes carried out by security force personnel employed by the Stormont Government. You either keep looking back looking for answers or look forward and keep looking solutions.

  • slug

    In practice its a matter of both.We in Northern Ireland seem to be in a very new phase of our history right now. Things suddenly feel, different.

  • Kathy C

    when my mother’s memory was failing…we took away the car keys, took control of her medical issues and medication along with paying her bills. If gerry’s memory is so impaired…maybe someone should stand up and take control away from him.

  • For “memory failure” read “denial and projection”

    A classic example of projection is the words quoted above by Adams.

    There are deniers and projectors in both the Unionist and Republican camps. None of them have come anywhere near to the point of taking full responsibility for their past wrongs.

    Perhaps it is their successors that will have to do that for them.

  • Cynic

    You cant exclude Gerry …. he is the process

  • Pod

    Look how excited Pete Baker gets, even when it is someone else and not he, who decides to mention Gerry Adams.


  • A.N.Other

    One is left with the notion that the entire future of the Unionist enterprise is predicated around the notion that Gerry Adams must be dragged down to the Palace Barracks and attached to a lie detector.

    When he finally gets around to spilling the beans, then Unionism will be free; its vision no longer limited to the extent of the painted Union Jack kerbstones.

    Suffice to say, such a theory has little time for such airy fairy notions as tolerance; forgiveness, creative co-exitence and multi-culturalism.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    As a fan of Adams myself I have to say he has handled the IRA thing very badly. It is understandable why he (or the British government) dont want to share all – but rarely for GrIzzly, when it comes to this matter, he has made a bit of a pig’s mickey out of it – I’m sure if he had to do it again he would he would find a more plausible, less counter productive way of dealing with the issue of his own past.

  • Politico68

    I can’t for the life of me figure out why people are so obsessed with wether or not Gerry was in The IRA. Most people seem to think he was probably a leader but if it is true, never in a million lifetimes he will admit to it. No different to others both from the state and the unionists who have lids on the truth on plenty of issues. It’s heart breaking for victims and survivors, I impossible to imagine their pain but we can’t afford to waste time on what ifs, move on.

  • SDLP Man


    While some people are obsessed with the question whether or not Adams was in the IRA, others feel that this question goes to the core of whether we believe in a person’s integrity. I have described him as a ‘Living Lie’ and the fact is that too many of his estranged former associates, living and dead, have put in on the record that he was involved, Price, Hughes, etc..

    There is no doubt that Adams has long ago succeeded Hume as the ‘leader of the nationalist community’, if you go by voting mandate, but if someone in his elevated position cannot be open and honest about his past, we are all in difficulty.

    You say that Adams will never admit it in a million lifetimes but McGuinness said in court that he was proud to be in the IRA and it hasn’t done him any harm in his political career. The difference is that McGuinness said it in open court and it can’t be unsaid.

    What’s different about Adams’s case other than perhaps what someone like me who opposes him would describe as overweening narcissism and vanity? And, of course, the follow-up question: ‘If you weren’t in the IRA, why weren’t you, since you supported the Armed Struggle?’

    Finally, I am always a bit skeptical about people who say ‘move on’. It’s generally their way of coping with awkward, uncomfortable questions that they hasven’t got the moral strength to deal with. It certainly hasn’t stopped the Provos campaigning on State crimes like the Ballymurphy shootings.

  • slug

    “While some people are obsessed with the question whether or not Adams was in the IRA”

    There is no question.

  • slug

    “I can’t for the life of me figure out why people are so obsessed with wether or not Gerry was in The IRA.”

    This is not a question.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Was Tony Blair in the army when the mad-bad-Englezes invaded Iraq? Was he commander in chief like the US president.

  • White Horse

    It really amazes me to see the self-righteousness of the Adams camp when it comes to what they did during the Troubles. It is matched only by the Paisley camp in terms of its total focus on what was done on them. This is of course the position of the egomaniac, and perhaps the North was unfortunate to have two perfect examples of this species at the one time.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    The British Labour Party took the Britian to war on far less justification than the Provos had for their insurgency – though admitedely that is not setting the bar very high.

    The British army personnel were also paid to carry out this fine work and had a choice to resign if they didnt feel morally up to it. These guys who are repsonsible for the deaths of thousands (most would say 10 of thousands) get a heroes welcome and the Labour Party got re-elected.

    In Ireland people generally fight over the right to run their own patch of turf and when it comes to ‘self-righteousness’ or big badly behaved neighbour is a wolrd leader.

  • pippakin

    The ability to ‘forget’ an atrocity is a rare thing. It is the inability to do such a thing that is the cause of the many problems ex armed forces people, of every country including PIRA etc, face and are unable to deal with.

    To be able to shrug it off with an “I forgot” is indeed a remarkable ability and to say that British politicians are, apparently, able to do it is hardly a recommendation.

  • tacapall

    “The ability to ‘forget’ an atrocity is a rare thing. To be able to shrug it off with an “I forgot”. Who are you talking about here? What atrocity are you talking about.

  • pippakin


    I thought it was a fairly, given the history of the north, innocuous observation. It would appear not.

    Ok, let’s ignore meeting a priest on his death bed. I suppose it would be possible for some people to forget that, although I am certainly not one of them, and of course it does not by itself constitute an atrocity. MMcG must have had so much on his mind back then.

    Bloody Friday, now that was an atrocity some (me among them) might expect the perpetrators to remember. Will that do you? I could go on but I’m certain you know the atrocities as well as I do.

    I’m in favour of amnesty but completely opposed to selective amnesia,, whoever is claiming to have it.

  • Alias

    Morrison is confusing the symptoms of memory loss with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease. Forgetting the four digit password to your bank’s ATM machine is the former, whereas forgetting that you had a senior managerial role in a state-sponsored sectarian murder gang over a period of decades is the latter.

  • White Horse


    Your comparison to the Labour Party and the Iraq war is just a distraction, as no doubt you intend.

    The point I make is that the militant republican community led by Gerry Adams and the vocally violent loyalists led by Ian Paisley are egomaniacal by definition of their own actions.

    It is always what was done “to us” and never what we were doing to others.

    BY their actions and inactions this conflict could have gone on forever if it wasn’t for John Hume saying “let’s call it a draw”.

  • tacapall

    Theres a very good article in todays Irish News about British, Unionist, security force memory loss, have you read it, all about members of RUC special forgetting to tell the police ombudswoman Nuala O Loan all about their connections with Mount Vernon UVF and their involvement in at least a dozen murders.

  • Alias

    The sham conflict would only have continued until its purpose was achieved, i.e. when the foreign state that made a claim to sovereign British territory withdrew its claim, and when the non-sovereign nation within the British state withdrew its claim to self-determination and agreed that sovereignty over the formerly disputed territory properly resided with the British nation and its state and they could all live as British citizens within the British state with equality of British citizenship and parity of esteem between all British citizens.

  • joeCanuck

    Polonius, to his son, in Hamlet:

    to thine own self be true,
    and it must follow, as the night the day,
    Thou canst not then be false to any man

    What say you, Gerry? Are you true to yourself?

  • White Horse


    You and Sammy are polar opposites. You can’t both be right. Someone has to stop people like you getting your way or the killing would go on forever.

  • pippakin


    Twelve? And what does that have to do with the price of eggs?

    My comment said “to say that British politicians are, apparently, able to do it is hardly a recommendation.”

    I was not and am not defending the British and if the best you can do is say “they did it first or they did it more” that is not good enough.

    The violence was wrong whoever did it.

    This thread is about GA’s and others selective memory, fogging the issue does not alter the facts.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    White Horse,

    The personalisation of the insurgency and the infatuation with Admas is a reflection of the annoyance within Unionism of Adams ability in legitimising that insurgency by firstly talks and then via the GFA settlement with the British.

    The comparison with the Labour party is valid and Iraq illustrates a tribe’s ability to ignore the unpleasantness carried out in its name and Republicans should not be lectured to by British politicans or commentators who ignore their own leaders who have far more blood on their hands for far less reason than that caused by the Republican insurgency.

  • Seymour Major

    “The comparison with the Labour party is valid”

    For “Labour Party,” read “Tony Blair and his disciples.” Yesterday, Ed Milliband came out saying they were wrong to go to war in Iraq

    It is valid in the sense that it is an example of denial in both cases but they are denials of a very different in nature. Blair’s denial is failure to admit mistake and misconception. Adams’ denial is a straightforward lie.

  • Alan Maskey

    Lest we forget. The pace changes at 32 seconds.

  • White Horse


    Again your referral to Britains woes is a distraction and you’re trying to change the topic of discussion.

    When you see that your insurgency was the domain of egomania between Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley, insurgency and counter-insurgency, demanded by both of them from their communities, and endless unless both were persuaded to step back.

    As such John Hume persuaded Gerry Adams to jump first and the cycle of violence ended.

    Those outside the republican and loyalist camps won’t see the legitimisation of their respective positions but the prevention of egomaniacs from continuing to do their worst. In other words its a case of pulling back the nutcases before they have us all killed.

  • Mark

    Lest we forget indeed tabloid !

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    White Horse,

    To not realise that the insurgency in the latter half of the 20th century was not directly linked to the forced parttion of Ireland under threat of further hostile action both by the Brtiish and Loyalists shows a remarkable lack of knowledge of Irish history. Portraying it as a battle between two mad Paddies sounds just like the normal British colonial nonsense that has been heard all around the world for centuries.

  • White Horse


    I think you have one “not” too many there.

    If my thesis is wrong, why was it that Ian Paisley and Gerry Adams were sitting uncomfortably together after St Andrews?

    It was no accident. They were the two extremes of the Troubles without whom there would not have been any troubles in many people’s opinions. They were a double act complimenting each other and contributing to the mess we got into.

    They quickly learned that there could be no negotiation without them, no solution without their consent. And they milked that each in the belief that they would prevail. They didn’t prevail. Hume stepped in and Adams blinked and the rest is history.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    White Horse,

    Yes an unhealthy surplus of nots.

    We will have to agree to disagree.

  • tacapall

    There you go Pippakin what does that say about you and your so called unbiased attitude, do nationalist victims not count, is your opinion so one sided and ingrained that you do not see nationalist grief is no different than anyone elses, that the rule of law applies to everyone. The state was involved in covering up and allowing murderers to go free and kill again then refused to cooperate with investigations into their activities. But you say what 12 peoples lives got to do with the price of eggs, its only Gerry Adams and PIRA’s concience and memory loss Im annoyed about. You’re memory loss of including Bloody Sunday, Mc Gurks bar, loughinisland, Ballymurphy, I could go on but Im not sure if you even know about those atrocities. Im opposed to selective amnesia as well.

  • pippakin


    Come off it! How you could read my last comment and come up with your answer is beyond me!

    Your concern about nationalist grief is touching. A pity the IRA were not as concerned when they were murdering more nationalists than anyone else.

    This has been a blatant attempt to change the subject but as long as GAs memory is so selective the subject will not go away.