After the Adams arrest what do we know and what has changed?

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So after four days of being questioned in thirty three taped interviews, Gerry Adams emerged, if not exactly blinking into the light yesterday, then clearly very happy to be back amongst his own activists. As, it must be said, they were to have him back.

For a party that twenty years ago was probably the most resilient of any political movement on these islands, Sinn Fein looked strangely lost without Adams’ steady hand at the tiller.

In retrospect, the decision to arrest rather than interview under caution, which would have given the Sinn Fein leader discretion to break off when it suited his purposes rather than the PSNI’s, seemed to take Sinn Fein completely unawares.

What followed looked like something short of an emotional meltdown. Conor Humphries of Reuters noted the contrast in tone:

After Sinn Fein pointed the finger at “dark forces” in the police service and their Protestant partners in government accused it of a “thuggish attempt” at blackmail, a calm Adams toned down the rhetoric and said he supported the police.

Where does it leave us, and what does it tell us?

One, the extent and degree of difficulty raised by Sinn Fein’s legacy issues from the past leave them a very long way from any easy transition from Adams’s leadership to the successor generation.

Two, as noted by Jon Tonge, this is a problem postponed rather than resolved. The DPP may yet bring charges, or they may not. It might refuse on the grounds of insufficient evidence or public interest as the Secretary of State already has in another prominent case.

Three, the main politics involved relate to promises made by Sinn Fein to its own activists back in early 2007 on the nature of its relations with the PSNI. The internal shock arises from the public proof of the party’s quite proper lack of operational control.

Four, Mr Justice Sweeney’s revelation of ‘letters of comfort’ gave rise to the perception that Sinn Fein had been accorded privileges not widely available to others. Being seen to be anything less than rigorous with Mr Adams was probably not an option for the PSNI.

Five, having chosen constitutional politics, Sinn Fein realistically has nowhere else it can go. All roads lead back to Stormont Castle and its tetchy and slowly deteriorating relationship with First Minister Peter Robinson and the DUP.

If Martin McGuinness’s ‘dark side’ narrative  has its roots in anything real these days it is in the deal Sinn Fein struck with the state for peace. Unable to agree an amnesty the party’s past has become increasingly difficult to manage for both Sinn Fein and the British.

Any ‘interference’ more likely amounts to the state’s refusal to prevent the Adams arrest than any direct connivance in it.

Robinson warned Sinn Fein yesterday that it had crossed a line, and that whilst “what we need in these circumstances is leadership – it is patently absent in the republican movement”.

As Mr Adams noted in his remarks to the press in Irish it is the McConville family that is ‘at the heart of this process’. He also noted quite rightly that “largely speaking the victims of the conflict have been the strongest supporters of the peace process”.

This is very true. Most have been tending their wounds silently as a willing price for a peace that has changed the lives of a whole generation. But in this regard Sinn Fein and Mr Adams have been careless of the good grace consistently shown them by these victims.

In the old vernacular, an awful lot of political delph has been broken in the last few days. Going forward, taking the rest of us for eejits as Bertie Ahern once put it should not be an option.

And what happens next?

This issue of any possible charges arising will be long fingered with the local PPS until after the election. Sinn Fein therefore will want to waste no time in doubling down on its local and European election campaigns north and the south.

Their strongest suit is probably the weakness of their main rivals to power.

In the north the SDLP’s greatest achievement has been to manage its own decline, but has failed thus far to make a successful pitch for the vote it lost to Sinn Fein between 1998 and 2007 Assembly elections.

In the south according to some polls, the Irish Labour Party may be sitting on as a little as a quarter of the actual vote it got just three years ago in the last general election. There are a lot of votes and seats up for grabs, particularly in Dublin.

It’s those non traditional Sinn Fein floating voters that may be affected by this episode. Key to the party’s attraction has been the considerable communicative talents of deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald who has spearheaded their anti austerity pitch to great effect.

But as the Irish Times columnist and former Fianna Fail special advisor notes:

Since Wednesday night, McDonald has had to go on media and use 1980s rhetoric about how the arrest of her party president was politically motivated. She was also required to say again and again that she believes Adams was never in the IRA.

Each time she parrots this incredible line from Adams, another piece of the credibility and standing which she has acquired cross-examining overpaid charity executives and challenging incommunicative bankers seeps away.

In the south it is the distraction from the party’s live agenda and its credibility which is likely to affect voters more than concern for the intricacies of Northern Ireland’s far away past, which is experienced more as the tragic tale of a mad old uncle banging round the attic.

The abiding presence of Adams on the legislative floor of the Republic’s parliament makes the gap between Sinn Fein’s version of the truth and what actually happened increasingly difficult to hide from southern voters.

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  • Mc Slaggart

    @Mick

    “Being seen to be anything less than rigorous with Mr Adams was probably not an option for the PSNI.”

    Sorry but you just had it wrong mick with your Letters of comfort narrative.

    As for “dark forces” in the PSNI I grew up with some of them. The main thing we was reminded by this event is the total incompetence of the RUC.

    “The abiding presence of Adams on the legislative floor of the Republic’s parliament”

    I have never liked Adams but I thought how he preformed at the press conference afterwards was a class act. Any team needs a blend and I think he will teach his young guns a trick or two.

  • Mick Fealty

    McS,

    Your first, you are giving me nothing to go on…

    Your second, and I agree completely with what you say about the presser, is a non sequitur…

  • redstar2011

    Many SF supporters are so sheeplike they will just fall into line.

    Their memory incapable of dealing with MMG 48 hrs earlier stating the Psni operated political policing.

    Your piece hits the nail right on the head-SF have nowhere else to go but continuing to administer HM Govt rule and supporting British security services in Ireland

  • Comrade Stalin

    To me it was an interesting reminder that SF activists and senior figures tend to be more extreme than Gerry is. But Gerry has this unique ability to cast a spell over them and make them fall into line.

    I thought McGuinness’ unguarded remarks about reviewing support for the PSNI etc were surprising. I think they will get away with it on the basis (depressingly) that unionists have been similarly critical of the police in similar circumstances.

  • Mc Slaggart

    redstar2011

    “Many SF supporters are so sheeplike they will just fall into line.

    Their memory incapable of dealing with MMG 48 hrs earlier stating the Psni operated political policing.”

    The biggest impact in places like Tyrone is how the PSNI will have to police flags and marching. Currently SF are holding out against a backlash on the issue from its supporters. What argument can they now use to stop people filling up Castlederg with nationalists flags?

  • Son of Strongbow

    Jarry’s Rap (sheet)

    Tried to spin bein’ on the Right Side,
    Riffed some bull ’bout the Dark Side
    Back where he belongs on the In Side
    (Did he sing ’bout looking on the Sunny Side?)
    Rushed off in a big black car out the Back Side.

    Schmoozed the Meedja on the West Side,
    Shut the trap of the Wan from the Bog Side,
    Hopin’ to con the folks back on His Side.

    Headin’ back to safety on the South Side.
    Life’s not do simple when you been on the Dodgy Side.
    Past’ll be back to whack him on the Blind Side!

  • katemcc

    SF’s return to ghetto politics at the weekend should give those previous SDLP voters food for thought. From Storey’s ‘we haven’t gone away you know…’ to McGuinness’ ‘standing head and shoulders above everyone else…’ depicts a rhetoric that would have turned them off many years ago. Unfortunately Stormont is such a dysfunctional , ineffective, acrimonious democracy that if they were all sitting with balaclavas and AK 47 pointed at each other it would be considered a stadium for the playing out of the violence and hatred and people would vote to contain them in one place.

  • Zig70

    So shortly Enda’s hurtful jibs will be decommissioned. Job done.

  • Kensei

    One – there is no evidence as yet that SF’s past isn’t already baked into the numbers. There is a lot of talk here without evidence. It might be right, it might not. The latter is the more interesting possibility, politically.

    Two – given MMG has openly admitted to being in the IRA, perhaps he is feeling somewhat more vulnerable and hence the outbursts? And does anyone think the institutions could survive the British going for convictions of the SF leadership.

    Three – I’m not convinced there is “nowhere else to go”. That is a dangerous assumption that leads to complacency. SF could manufacture a reason to plug the plug on the Assembly, and take their chances that it’d lead to some form of joint authority.

    Four – Eamonn McCann of all people points out it’s not paranoia if they are out to get you:

    http://t.co/BJcOm4iXIe

  • Niall Noigiallach

    Mick,

    In general, not a lot has changed. The need and desire to hound Adams is still there and it will continue for many a year. We know now that this group consists of senior PSNI officers as well as the usual individuals in the media. They’ll come back with another allegation, we’re sure of that. You’re right when you say it’s a problem postponed rathar than resolved. I wouldn’t say the Shinners have a lack of operational control based on the past few days, in fact we’ll get to see it in abundance over these next few weeks.

    For me, I think some senior cops have layed their cards firmly on the table. Should Adams have been arrested and questioned? Undoubtedly yes if there was good enough reason to arrest him and I hope the fact that the SF President was arrested sets a precedent for others to be arrested for past incidents no matter what their standing or status. But was there any new evidence the PSNI had and do we really expect any similar high profile arrests? No. Absoloutley not. The Shinners still frighten the life out of the establishment north and south.

    His presence in the south as TD for Louth is a constant reminder of the incompetence of the north’s intelligence gathering bodies to secure any type of conviction. Under surveillence for practically all of his life with three people close to him being run as informers for years watching his every move and nothing concrete to convict him on, Adams is the proverbial two fingers across the border sticking up and pointing north. This is a wrong that needs put right as far as Scap, Donaldson and McShane’s handlers are concerned. They’re far from finished and they’ve let it be known that it’s game on as far as they’re concerned. It’s interesting to note that Martin Mansergh made a remark to RTE over the weekend about the arrest being a supposed “elaborate sting operation” while chastising the current southern government about taking it’s eye of the ball as far as the peace process is concerned.

    Noel Whelan would love it if Mary Lou’s credibility did go down over her stance in the past week however like most in FF, his finger is far from the pulse. First time voters may be put off to a certain degree in the south and SF might not make the type of gains they were polled to in the run up to the Adams arrest (the entire point of his arrest), but they will make some strong gains.

    Long term, I’ve always said that Adams bashing isn’t much of a strategy as far as the anti-SF and anti-republican brigade are concerned – north and south. They’d be better off going toe to toe with SF on policy. They need a new strategy for 2016, trying hopelessly to out perform the media savvy Shinners is becoming an embarrassing regular occurance, Mike Nesbitt’s abysmal turn on BBC News 24 last night right before the Adams release and put in contrast with the presser is a microcosm of where everyone else is at.

    In short, a great week for the anti-Shinner brigade with a bitter end crash back to earth last night and another, yet another terrible week for the McConville family as they’re put through the mill again

  • Morpheus

    Far too much has been made of this…as usual

    A few months ago a conversation probably took place something along the lines of:
    “Listen Gerry, all we have are these Boston Tapes which you know are next to useless when it comes to securing a conviction but these politicians are baying for blood so we’ll bring you in and get our best guys to pull you over the coals to get them off both our backs.”
    “Fair enough”
    “We’ll have to arrest you though because that’s standard procedure in cases of murder”
    “Fair enough”
    “Antrim Serious crime suite – again standard procedure”
    “Fair enough”
    “We’ve got wi-fi and Starbucks up the road”
    “Fair enough”

    Marty then stupidly puts on a show for the hardliners because he knows that if there are still those from the ‘dark side’ then it’s up to the CC and PBNI – of which SF are members – to get rid.

    End result – PSNI did their best, politicians and commentators temporarily appeased and GA has a soundbite for all upcoming election interviews

  • tomthumbuk

    We know that either his memory, his mathematics or his veracity are up the left.
    He says he contacted the PSNI two months ago.
    It was first reported on the 24th March, that he had asked his solicitor to contact the Police,
    Seems like another of Gerry’s pork pies!

  • Lionel Hutz

    On the politics front, I think most of Sinn Ferns competitors handled it well. Thought Alastair McDonnell handled himself well on Sunday politics and the parties in the south have only really criticised the Sinn Feint response.

    Their screams of political policing have not struck a chord. They got less people at their rally than the dissidents can manage. Sinn Feint looked kind of pathetic for week.

  • Greenflag

    Nothing has changed except SF will now probably do better in the local and Euro elections than they might otherwise have done . Thanks due again to the ‘Get Gerry At Any Cost ‘ campaigners now approaching their 40th anniversary in the long struggle for what they call ‘victory ‘..

    Thanks also due to the PSNI who could at least have waited till the elections were over . Perhaps they or some of them were ill advi’dark side ‘ of political unionism . After all the events for which Adams was questioned happened 40 years ago .

    All told another victory for SF – Robinson once again in ‘warning /threatening mode left with egg on his gizzard .

    They really haven’t a clue -have they . Robinson could do himself and political unionism another disfavour by simply carrying out his several threats and walking out of the Assembly . He can claim that SF don’t support the PSNI -despite Gerry Adam’s statement can’t he ? At the very least he can accuse his DFM McGuinness of not supporting some of the Police ? Can’t he ?

    Perhaps he should just resign and let Doddsy pick up the poisoned chalice ?

    More seats for SF -North and South the most likely outcome . Nothing brings out the SF vote and it’s latent vote more than the sight of ‘British Justice ‘ jailing Irishmen. .It was ever so and that won’t ever change .

    Whats needed is a general amnesty on all pre 1998 GFA troubles related matters that will apply to all combatants on all sides including their political and military overmasters .
    Otherwise the ‘troubles ‘ will never end and the next generation will continue their impossible ‘search ‘ for justice .

    After the Second World War the French Resistance executed many collaborators for being ‘friendly” to the Germans ‘ .What that meant in reality was anybody’s guess .But there were hundreds executed simply because they were the victims of local intra Resistance vendettas which were family or business related feuds .

    Mrs McConville’s tragic death and many others during the NI troubles was not unlike those of the ‘collaborators ‘ mentioned above and the same happened all over Europe post WW2 . Quisling was hanged by the Norwegians which main event expunged the guilt of many Norwegian ‘collaborators’.

    I read on the BBC a story of the forgotten Vietnamese collaborators of French colonialism in South East Asia who had as it were Hobson’s choice

    In the 1950s, like Britain, France saw its overseas colonial empire begin to unravel rapidly, and its far-Eastern colony, Indochina or Indochine, was no exception.

    The French packed their bags and left in a hurry.

    However thousands of local residents who had worked for the French colonial administration or had married French citizens were considered traitors by much of the local population and their lives were in danger.

    The full story for anyone interested

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-16852092

    War is nowhere fought as per the Queensberry Rules . When an operator sitting in an undergound bunker in the USA directs a Drone to execute suspected Taliban in the mountain valleys of Pakistan is it War or just Execution of suspects ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Lionel,

    I also thought the SDLP caught the tone about right.

    SF’s spurious complaints of political policing will sadly be lapped up by their supporters here, but I’m not sure about the south. Outside of the SF core vote in the RoI, slagging off the police is not likely to win support.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Garda Síochána is a police force worthy of the name. The ones they ship to Bundoran mop up Belfast hoods who do not know how to behave near children.

    David Fords PSNI cannot even stop hoods putting illegal tyres on bonfires.

  • Kevsterino

    One thing that stands out to me about the events of the past week is that the impact of the ‘Belfast Project’ recordings on the status of those who did not share their past with Dr. Anthony was in doubt. Now that Mr. Bell is charged and Mr. Adams is not, it would appear that as long as you weren’t foolish enough to believe a University could keep such tapes a secret while the director of the project was publishing books based on them, you will not be prosecuted.

  • Gopher

    What did we learn? It seems we learnt “the border” has finally become a double edged sword for an “all Ireland” whilst the gap between Marty and Gerry remains paper thin you place your money and take your chances as to whose truth one would believe. The “Northern” truth that there is a tactical use of ceasefire or the “Southern” truth that peace is permanent. Or perhaps just the truth whilst there is chance of entering government in the South and subverting the state there cannot be any truth from North of the Border. All those files of 100 years of state from intelligence through to briefing will prove a very selective fountain of wisdom.

    What appears strange is that an obvious PSNI PR exercise spooked Marty into telling the “Northern” truth perhaps he was worried that HMG had released to the PSNI all the evidence (surveillance, wire taps, informants briefings from the South etc) on Gerry that they undoubtably have and were serious about a prosecution. The decapitating of SF if only momentarily had Marty dropping the ballot box and reaching for the Armalite without one second contemplation. “Thou doth protest too much”. Rational thought evaporated and the border cut through strategy like a machete the “Southern” truth and years of planning was dropped like a hot potato. The sight of Marty running around like Jones in Dad’s Army “Don’t Panic, Don’t Panic” would have been amusing if the threat had not have been so profound. SF certainly “Don’t like it up them” Perhaps the “reformers” in the PSNI should brief Marty in crayon.

    Once of course the “sham” arrest was over, Gerry had to dispel the “Northern” truth and restate the “Southern” one in some of the most frantic back-pedalling on live television. No we arnt going to subvert the state, yes we believe in due process, yes we support the police and the press etc etc etc. Where are we now? We still have a secret ballot just incase one is not sure of the truth.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Not much changed, but it has maybe made the consequences of the impasse over Haass starker than before. Focussed a few minds on the fact that Troubles legacy issues exist in the present, not just the past – and cannot simply be swept under the carpet. And that the current situation on Troubles legacy is at best a mess and probably something much worse – a cancer eating away at any chance of true mutual respect between the two communities.

    From a pro-peace, anti-extremist point of view, it’s had the welcome effect of taking the McConville case to the front pages nationally. It shouldn’t work this way, but an individual case becoming widely known makes a big difference in making the arguments for justice for victims. The wider public responds much more to individual stories than to the cold stats of the Troubles – and highlighting such cases can shift perceptions of where the balance of justice lies, on the balancing of peace vs justice that Jonathan Freedland has described.

    As such, the week’s events, purely by telling Jean McConville’s story, may help make the case for victims and their families to be put first – and it may make it harder for the architects of the Troubles to argue that peace requires their personal continued protection.

    I think it’s opened the door to a tantalising prospect: that a consensus starts to build for peace *with* justice; a realisation that it’s not either/or after all: peace without justice we have had so far has taken us as far as it could, but has nothing to offer longer term. For Northern Ireland to really transform into an exciting place of possibilities, creativity, energy and prosperity, we need people to be happy with the dispensation. That optimism was there briefly in 1998 and there have been moments since but on the whole, we need a relaunch, this time from the more solid ground of truth and transparency. The old “peace process” fudge narrative, which I bought myself for many years, now feels anachronistic. People just don’t believe in it any more.

    In particular, I think we need to end the idea that victims won’t get justice now. We need to redress the balance and I think that can’t happen without some high profile players in the Troubles going to jail. What will be politically difficult will be that it won’t result in a 50/50 on numbers getting convicted. For every 20 people getting put away, we can expect at a rough estimate around 14 to be Republicans, 5 Loyalists and 1 member of the security forces. (It’s not 60/30/10 on this, because only some of the security force killings were murders as such; and Loyalist killings have already been cleared up and prosecuted in much greater numbers than Republican ones, according to the murder conviction stats).

    That will be hard to swallow for a Republican Movement used to its “50/50 conflict” narrative being uncritically accepted by much of the outside world. The rest of us – and that is the bulk of the population – must make common cause, if we want the Province to have a future based on honesty and courage rather than the tired old Paul Daniels smoke and mirrors SF offers.

  • Alan N/Ards

    What changed for me was my opinion of McGuinness. I was actually starting to believe he was someone the ordinary person could get behind and support. I’m not sure if I actually believe that anymore. I wonder what his good friend the Rev. David Latimer is thinking about his outbursts?

  • Greenflag

    @ MU,

    “For every 20 people getting put away, we can expect at a rough estimate around 14 to be Republicans, 5 Loyalists and 1 member of the security forces. ”

    I note you don’t mention British Goverment Ministers or NI Secretaries of State or other high ranking officials who colluded in extra judicial murders and bombings in NI and the Republic ? Obviously Mrs Thatcher will not face trial but there are several politicians now mostly retired who could get put away if what you call ‘justice ‘ was to be served .

    Not to worry thought they won’t . It will be British (in reference to NI in particular) injustice as per usual .

    Nothing has changed indeed .

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    ” For every 20 people getting put away, we can expect at a rough estimate around 14 to be Republicans, 5 Loyalists and 1 member of the security forces. (It’s not 60/30/10 on this, because only some of the security force killings were murders as such; and Loyalist killings have already been cleared up and prosecuted in much greater numbers than Republican ones, according to the murder conviction stats).”

    @MU,

    Loyalists for the most part were not as trained and disciplined as republicans in post-operation evidence destruction. I would expect in the future for political purposes that prosecutions of republicans and security force personnel will be more evenly matched.

    “What did we learn? It seems we learnt “the border” has finally become a double edged sword for an “all Ireland” whilst the gap between Marty and Gerry remains paper thin you place your money and take your chances as to whose truth one would believe. ”

    @Gopher,

    It certainly seems that the island’s one all-Irish political party is experiencing difficulties running two separate electoral strategies: in the North based on irredentism and communal victimization and in the South on socialism and anti-austerity measures. It reminds me of one early general election when Adams participated in a general debate before the media before the election and was clueless about what was being discussed. Now he is a decade older. He should retire and let someone from a younger generation take over.

  • son of sam

    Alan N/Ards
    I’m trying to remember the Rev Latimers quote about Martin.Something like “one of the great statesmen of the troubles”.Suppose Martin will have to start his charm offensive all over again!

  • tacapall

    ” For every 20 people getting put away, we can expect at a rough estimate around 14 to be Republicans, 5 Loyalists and 1 member of the security forces. (It’s not 60/30/10 on this, because only some of the security force killings were murders as such; and Loyalist killings have already been cleared up and prosecuted in much greater numbers than Republican ones, according to the murder conviction stats).”

    Do you just make this stuff up yourself MU, is the definition of joint enterprise different to you than it is for everyone else ? Maybe you should read today’s Irish news and discover a bit of truth about Britain’s role via its agent provocateur Brian Nelson in arming loyalists with a shipload of automatic weapons that were later used to murder innocent Catholics, supplying the murder weapons is no different than actually being the person pulling the trigger.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    From the Prosecution website in the uk http://www.cps.gov.uk/victims_witnesses/resources/prosecution.html#a03 :

    If there is not a realistic prospect of conviction, the case must not go ahead, no matter how serious or sensitive it may be.

    Presumably the same applies in N.I. The DPP will probably be criticized no matter what they decide and they do not have a good record of success in other high profile troubles related cases.

  • Politico68

    Twenty years ago Sinn Fein’s support was a fraction of what it is now, and the last few days have shown that the party is more resilient than ever (assuming we are sticking with the true definition of the word).
    I think it is quite possible that the GA arrest took the party off guard, it is quite likely they didn’t expect an innocent man to be charged for a crime he had no hand, act or part in, nor would they have expected the PSNI to act to satisfy the anti-Adams hysteria of political opponents and some sections of the media who have been screaming for his head for some time now. The police have had their hands on the discredited Boston College tapes for long enough to make a move well before they did. It simply stinks to high heaven of old Guard RUC meddling.
    The resulting anger within the broad republican community was adequately and appropriately expressed in the comments of Mary Lou and Marty; controlled, but assertive enough to leave nobody in doubt that Republicans would show up the ‘stunt’ for what it was. The measured words of GA in his press conference after his release were equally adequate and appropriate given the calmer environment. In short, the response of the SF leadership throughout the circus and after reflected balance, displaying a level of excellence in leadership that is the envy of all other political movements on this Island and a testament to the brilliance of Adams himself.
    Gerry Adams leadership has been selfless to the point where an entire generation of future leaders are well placed to carry the torch when the time comes for a change at the helm. SF have mastered the art of nurturing succession in a way that other parties and organizations can only dream about. The tightness of the party is indicative of the lack of self-centered careerism so evident in all the other parties. There are disagreements, for sure, but they are openly discussed between the memberships and resolved out of the public eye. Other parties die ripping each other apart in public as the media froth at the mouth with glee, it must be very frustrating for journalists and commentators who can’t seem to snare SF into giving them a similar show.
    Everybody wants to find out what the next move will be on the part of the authorities. It will be strung out for sure, with the haters brought on a roller coaster of a ride as the authorities ‘um’ and ‘ah’ over the evidence to hand, finally settling on no prosecution, sending Unionists into frenzy. But this will give them another reason to rip up the streets and brick the police as they have done on a weekly basis for God knows how long, in stark contrast to the quiet streets of nationalist Belfast while Gerry was quizzed. Another sign of the maturity and confidence of nationalism and Republicanism, and proof that ‘internal shocks’ merely lead to a quick and effective adaptation to circumstances rather than a lack of ‘operational control’.
    Sinn Fein can be confident of how it reads its supporters who are unwavering, as the party slowly nudges out the destroyers of the RUC old guard. Dissidents will also be disappointed to see how remarkably well the SF family held it together even under such difficult circumstances and how sharp and focused their return to the campaign trial is.

    The party like any other, can only maneuver within the context of political realities, any suggestion that they might want to ‘go’ anywhere is simply inaccurate given their commitment to the process and their rapid rise in support. They have the power to bring down the assembly sure, just as the other parties have. But unlike Robbo who threatens to quit every time the wind changes direction (flexing a bit of muscle to keep his sectarian bigots in-line) Marty et al. leads a team of dedicated servants of the people, whose goal is to drive the republican project forward slowly and efficiently, despite distractions.
    The party has a ‘past’ that is managed by in the British in the form of state dinners and a realization that SF is a serious popular political force, while the party itself sees the past as just that – the past – and as Adams pointed out in his speech, the slippery history of the troubles will never deflect SF in its vision for the future, if the past was going to be difficult for SF, the mobilization of the republican movement over the last few days shows that it certainly won’t be allowed derail their unity.
    This unity includes agreement on addressing the issues of victims, the party has agreed on a way forward in the context of the Hass proposals despite the possibility of prosecutions, now we just have to wait for everybody else to catch up and show a similar willingness to respect the ‘good grace’ shown by those who have suffered.
    For sure the party will have been damaged in the South by the shenanigans of the last few days, and this will be born out in the election results later in the month. A consolation prize of sorts for those who just wanted to destroy GA. But, even if SF fall back into the early teens in terms of support they will still see a massive increase in the number of counselors they return. Moreover, Mary Lou’s defense of Adams shows that the oft mentioned claim that she is waiting in the wings for Adams to fall is simply a wishful fantasy on the part of those that simply misunderstand the strength of Unity within the party’s leadership. Suggestions that she was forced to say anything she didn’t want to is more fantasy peddled by those who simply can’t find a rock big enough or heavy enough to sink the Sinn Fein ship.
    Gerry Adams presence on the floor of the Dail, along with his comrades is a reflection of the strength of the party. No more can the government use the circumstances of Jean McConvilles shocking death to avoid answering difficult questions about government policy and performance. Moreover, when it comes to ‘truth’ the majority of voters in the south are more interested in the ‘truth’ of their living standards than the theatrical hysterics of Gerry Adams haters.
    Gerry Adams is Not Sinn Fein, no more than Sinn Fein is Republicanism. They are both important parts of a bigger, broader and wider movement that is slowly breaking down the political, social and economic cancers that have been nurtured by an establishment far removed from the needs of the people.
    The only real problem SF has at the moment, is how to cope with the mass of people wanting to join.

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart,

    David Fords PSNI cannot even stop hoods putting illegal tyres on bonfires.

    The police are appointed by, funded by, and are accountable to the Police Board, not the Justice Minister. But you knew that.

  • Dixie Elliott

    As Suzanne Breen points out clearly the people of West Belfast couldn’t be bothered to come out and support Adams at the unveiling of the mural to his ego…

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/regional/comment-outrage-at-adams-arrest-most-of-west-belfast-didn-t-care-1-6039332#.U2eFdHle8uY.facebook

    And as I pointed out in another thread the membership of PSF in Belfast alone must number in the hundreds, then you have close family members and Paul Maskey made the claim that they came from all over Ireland.

    So what does it say when they have to lie to themselves and the wider party faithful about the turnout, thousands they claim, when their own photos and video proves otherwise that in fact it was a few hundred?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Twenty years ago Sinn Fein’s support was a fraction of what it is now,

    That’s an interesting way of putting the difference between 15% and 25%.

    and the last few days have shown that the party is more resilient than ever (assuming we are sticking with the true definition of the word).

    The party acted like a headless chicken until Gerry was released and pulled things together. I wouldn’t call that resilient.

  • megatron

    I think we know that nobody in the media wants to tell the truth but we knew that already.

    We also know that we are forever doomed to live in a world where the idea of justice for Jean McConville has been conflated with the idea of convicting Gerry Adams for the murder but we probably also knew that already.

    I dont think much has changed but the elections will tell a tale. Given the real elections are two years away SF will be more concerned with whether the political currency of Jean McConville is devaluing or not rather than any short term poll hit.

  • Niall Noigiallach

    “As Suzanne Breen points out clearly the people of West Belfast couldn’t be bothered to come out and support Adams at the unveiling of the mural to his ego…”

    Ah wee “Dixie Elliott”. I’ve always been intrigued by your name, for some reason I get a mental image of the average 1980′s Belfast man who would drink in one of the city centre pubs. Denim jacket, jeans and black shiny brogues. The moustache, white t-shirt and can’t-standability all rolled into one. “There’s Dixie” they would say, “don’t look up in case he comes over”. Or I think of a poor left back for a mediocre amateur league side. “I’m not f**king playing in the middle today, Dixie Elliott’s their left back, I’m out on the right”.

    You’ve been busting your wee arse to break your sensational scoop on how the people of West Belfast have ditched Sinn Fein and have now saw the light. The riots over the Falls Curfew mural (tell me when they start), the ten people at Saturday’s rally – yes Dixie, you have hit the nail on the head. To underline your proof you’ve linked an article to the nationalist daily, “Newsletter”. Always a guage of nationalist and republican opinion, the Newsletter for the first time ever ever in its entire history gives us an insight into how republican West Belfast thinks. Those of us who are westies read in wonder and amazement at just how accurate and true to life Suzanne Breen’s article is. Fascinating.

    I’m sure you can’t wait until the upcoming elections when the people of West Belfast ditch Sinn Fein at the ballot box. Suzanne could do a piece on you and how you predicted the whole thing! Oh mummy here be’s me. Our Dixie. Denim jacket, pulitzer prize winning left back. Stap it.

    The truth is Dixie, while unionists feel the need to “protest” (Antrim cop shop) and riot (Sandy Row last night again was it) at almost every opportunity, the people of West Belfast are an altogether more confident and savvy lot. You don’t need to be at a Shinner rally to be a republican. Or vote for them. Sinn Fein have been “losing the heartlands” for years now. Which has always seemed strange to me because people keep turning up at election counts who have the same name as the Shinner candidates and then they start talking into the microphone like they won a seat or something. I’m serious. Watch the imposters do it again in a few weeks. Geg.

  • Politico68

    Comrade, try those figures again but this time in an island-wide basis and you might get where I am coming from.

    Headless Chicken? LOL, gimme a break. Subjective and inaccurate, headless chickens usually bump and crash into things while Sinn Fein rose to the occasion with clarity and determination.

    The get Adams brigade have failed, hence the fact that we are discussing the state of the republican family now rather than anything of any real importance. Look, I cant convince you or anybody else like you that Republicanism is strong, vibrant and confident no more than you can convince me of the opposite (apparently I am a sheep) So lets ditch the effort and just wait and see how things progress a chara.

  • megatron

    “The challenge for decent people is to move on and leave these people behind”

    Do you need directions to the boat?

  • Politico68

    Dixie, Rallys during the daytime dont suit Nationalist because they are too busy either working, looking for work or getting an education, but maybe this will cheers you up a bit….

    https://www.facebook.com/hashtag/teamsfireland?source=feed_text&story_id=473227332807194

  • megatron

    yellow card?

    The contributor is talking about leaving half a million odd people behind – how exactly can that be done without a boat or plane?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Niall Noigiallach thats what I’d call shouting with the keyboard.

    Oh and you’re right, come the time to keep the other side out the people of West Belfast will vote for the shinners, They’ve done that since before Gerry Fitt so no change there for the people of that area who remain 3rd in the league of unemployment across the UK as a whole…

    However while it’s obvious that British funding has retained a certain amount of ‘loyalty’ for the leadership signs from the rally and across the North are that many Republicans have turned their backs on PSF.

    Politico68 in actual fact the er rally was held on Saturday evening and I just checked that photo…

    Aye, my point exactly, those are more or less the same crowd who turned up on Saturday…

    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_Xb5mh5BjcAo/SQnfr4QqTGI/AAAAAAAAB3g/GZh_cEY2ARY/s1600-h/Queen-Bee-7.bmp

  • Politico68

    More or less? Well clearly you have identified a weakness in the Republican movement in terms of real support versus actual support. They will be in trouble come election time for sure !!

  • Dixie Elliott

    I’ve been reliably informed from a friend that members of PSF in Omagh received texts to go to the Belfast election thingy. There was a bus laid on which went up through Carrickmore and on to pick up others from West Tyrone Sinn Fein.

    Given that Carál Ní Chuilín said at the Gerry Rally that she recieved a text late the night before to attend, I’d say a lot of texts were being sent and a few buses laid on tonight.

  • Niall Noigiallach

    “so no change there for the people of that area who remain 3rd in the league of unemployment across the UK as a whole…”

    UK Office for National Statistics actually reported the following in terms of unemployment:

    Glasgow 30%
    Liverpool 28.7%
    Hull 27.6%
    Birmingham 27.4%
    Wolverhampton 27.3%

    As you can see, Hull has morphed into West Belfast and vice versa. I wouldn’t worry about statistics though Trixie, we won’t be part of the “UK” for much longer anyway

  • Dixie Elliott

    Did you read what I said about the elections above P68? Clearly you were reading a text at the time…

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    I think that the outcome is likely what most people expected. There has long been innuendo but the only two people who directly implicated Adams in the whole affair are both dead, may or may not have had axes to grind, and are obvioulsly not able to testify.
    I think that there is an element of abusing victims relatives when impossible suggestions are made that they might find justice. Adams will never be convicted of anything.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    BBC World News are reporting that they have been told that there is insufficient evidence to charge Adams.

  • Politico68

    Dixie, sorry, I normally hang on your every word but somehow missed the part where u were telling us that SF will get millions of votes even though everybody hates them and that the two thousand people at the Belfast rally last night were comprised mainly of the 800 people who were at the previous rally on the falls road. Obviously some cloning going on.

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Niall Noigiallach,

    I think your challenge to Dixie is uncalled for. Dixie initially posted on SOT under a pseudonym and I challenged him as to his credibility. He immediately replied under his own name.

  • Niall Noigiallach

    Joe,

    The man playing may be uncalled for and deserving of the yellow card however we’ve had over two years at least of the “even in their own areas people are turning on the Shinners”.

    Let’s have some proof and we can discuss and debate that in the proper manner

  • Charles_Gould

    Suzanne Breen wrote an insightful piece the other day, making the point that the rally in support of Adams was small. This could however be because SF didn’t want there to be a large rally for one reason or another – and it would have required a large promotional effort that for one reason or another they judged was not the best option. Indeed it may have been wise – in the greater good – for SF not to go for the option of calling out a large number of people.

    I maintain that Alex Attwood made an astute point in criticising the rally, and in particular the insensitive place that it was held.

  • Mc Slaggart

    @ CS

    “David Ford has set out a number of themes which encompass the key roles of the Department.

    These are:

    Safer, Shared Communities – working to help build communities with lower levels of crime and anti-social behaviour, where everyone’s rights are respected, including examining steps than can be taken to address problems at interfaces.”

  • Comrade Stalin

    McSlaggart,

    You were wrong and you should be man enough to admit it.

  • MonkDeWallyDeHonk

    Charles_Gould

    “I maintain that Alex Attwood made an astute point” – so what – if an SDLP representative said the sky was purple you’d agree with it. IMO – you are just an SDLP version of the “sheep” that so many people on here are fond of labelling SF supporters as.

    As I have pointed out before, I am not and have never been a SF supporter or voter. However, I knew Attwood from my days at QUB and he was arrogant and patronizing.

    I know plenty of people in West Belfast who would never have supported SF when the IRA campaign was going on and most of them still wouldn’t.

    However, as has been pointed out before, Attwood still can’t get a quota in West Belfast. Instead of mouthing off one dimensional platitudes – have you ever asked yourself why?

    Likewise with Mark Durkan – another SDLP legend in your own minds. I know a lot of people who have had to deal with him over the years and the feedback I get is 90% the same – arrogant, self-opinionated and thinks he’s a lot smarter than he actually is. For someone who frequently rants on about economics – his economic qualifications don’t make impressive reading.

    I would love to see a genuine smart, caring alternative to SF on the Nationalist side. Unfortunately, the SDLP aren’t it – they are smug, arrogant and condescending.

    If I still lived in NI, I’d vote for NI21 or Alliance before the SDLP and, as someone who was born and raised in West Belfast and who couldn’t possibly admire John Hume more – that says a lot!

  • Niall Noigiallach

    “If I still lived in NI, I’d vote for NI21 or Alliance before the SDLP and, as someone who was born and raised in West Belfast and who couldn’t possibly admire John Hume more – that says a lot!”

    Ironic thing is Monk, from what I can see and as crazy as it sounds at face value, NI21 and Tina McKenzie are putting in more of an effort for their Euro campaign in West Belfast than Lord Attwood

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Tacapall,
    The figures were fairly obviously a guesstimate, but your post doesn’t actually provide any argument my guesstimate is out. Though I am open to more / better information on numbers of murders still to be cleared up and in what proportions they fall in terms of “organisation responsible.”

    But even if we followed 60/30/10, it’s still going to mean the bulk of any justice proceedings would be against people in the Republican Movement. That movement’s continued political power is the main reason that justice won’t be done – the guilty men will simply block it.

    We’ve seen over the McConville murder how ready they really are to tell the truth – not at all. It suits them well for the current pattern to continue of the truth coming out based on individual cases, each one to brought forward to satisfy each community equally, as that ends up as a 50/50 exercise, i.e. it’s a big win for Republicans.

    Indeed, so far, in terms of column inches, it’s been better than 50/50 for Republicans, as so much of public attention has been directed towards Bloody Sunday, the Stalker controversy, Gibraltar and Finucane. The outside observer gets the impression that really the British security forces must have been the main problem. It comes as some surprise when they find out the truth about the true scale of Republican activity in the Troubles vs security forces misdemeanours (though of course people in Northern Ireland haven’t been so easily fooled, as we couldn’t miss what they were doing).

    Republicans will bend over backwards to make sure that the outside world continues to perceive the Troubles as a 50/50 conflict. The truth and justice requires that narrative and that misleading impression to be strongly corrected at every turn. I’m sure all but the most extremist posters on Slugger will agree on the importance of that central truth of the Troubles being reasserted by people from all sides.

  • Mc Slaggart

    Comrade Stalin

    “The police are appointed by, funded by, and are accountable to the Police Board”

    Nice for them. Does that stop David carrying out his themes???

    “David Ford has set out a number of themes which encompass the key roles of the Department.

    These are:

    Safer, Shared Communities – working to help build communities with lower levels of crime and anti-social behaviour, where everyone’s rights are respected, including examining steps than can be taken to address problems at interfaces.”

  • Kevsterino

    MU, as far as outside world perceptions are concerned, I think a point that is often lost is the the history books haven’t made it to the printers yet. The story they tell is not in the control of people today, from whatever side. The TUV’s ‘contract with innocent victims’ is a case in point. It states that the signers will not agreed to a shared narrative of the history of the troubles. As if that was ever on in the first place. There will be no shared narrative of the events of 1969-1998. That is the nature of such things.

    As for the perceptions of the outside world is concerned, speaking as an ‘outside worlder’, I find things like the flag protests a couple Christmas’s ago far more illustrative of the state of things than propaganda splurges by political parties and other folks grinding their respective axes.

    The fleggers have made things incredibly easy for republicans of late. Now let’s see what the Orange come up with this summer to make sure truth-telling reigns supreme in the wee province.

  • Morpheus

    I have heard this 60/30/10 argument before and it is just as ridiculous now as it was the first time I read it. Our Judicial System doesn’t work like that – it never has and it never will.

    The cornerstone of our judicial system is evidence and to put it simply, if the evidence does not exist then the there will not be a conviction. The harsh reality is that for the majority of victims the evidence simply does not exist to bring convictions and no about of wishing will make it so.

    Our judicial system is not Quid Pro Quo – it will never come to pass that we prosecute 6 republicans and 3 loyalists for every state agent. The very suggestion is bizarre.

    Out of curiosity, in this 60/30/10 scenario where do people like The Glenanne Gang come in?

  • tacapall

    “The figures were fairly obviously a guesstimate, but your post doesn’t actually provide any argument my guesstimate is out. Though I am open to more / better information on numbers of murders still to be cleared up and in what proportions they fall in terms of “organisation responsible.”

    Obviously the point about joint enterprise and state involvement in arming loyalists with the weapons that were used to murder a considerable number of people, providing the intelligence, securing their evasion from justice goes in one ear and out the other with yourself, thats even before we get to the joint enterprise with republicans in murder like British agent Freedie Scappaticci over 60 murders. It is fact now that we cannot use the likes of Cain for reliable figures of who done what when evidence is emerging almost every week of third party involvement (the state) in dozens if not hundreds of murders. Until there is some sort of truth commission we simply will never know the truth about who was all involved in the violence that was inflicted on our people although its no surprise you continue to peddle myths and flawed figures when you class state involvement in murder as a misdemeanour. It is you MU who are bending over backwards to portray a version of events that suit your own narrative all the while brushing under the carpet the fact that the puppet masters and those who rolled the snowballs for others to throw, were the very same people who were employed to uphold the law and the very same people who supplied the figures for your guesstimates.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Mister_Joe

    Niall Noigiallach,

    “I think your challenge to Dixie is uncalled for. Dixie initially posted on SOT under a pseudonym and I challenged him as to his credibility. He immediately replied under his own name.”

    Sorry Joe I’ve never posted under a fake name so I doubt you’ve got the wrong person. Why would anyone using Mister_Joe challenge someone else for using a fake name?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Politico68 said…

    “Dixie, sorry, I normally hang on your every word but somehow missed the part where u were telling us that SF will get millions of votes even though everybody hates them and that the two thousand people at the Belfast rally last night were comprised mainly of the 800 people who were at the previous rally on the falls road. Obviously some cloning going on…”

    Ah the Devenish Arms has suddenly become the Tardis has it? The photo Mary Lou posted of the ‘nearly 2,000′ is doing the rounds and causing some amusement given that place can hold nowhere near that number.

    Secondly the photo is clearly doctored, with people nearest the camera looking straight ahead, the oval on the ceiling nearest the camera going at an odd angle compared to the other two. And the people furthest away from the camera are so small it gives the impression that the hall is the size of a football pitch…

    It’s either Full-frame Fisheye or Image stitching but it’s clearly not real and if you have to fake photos then…

    I don’t know if I can be viewed here but regardless…

    https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152041905656332&set=a.498206116331.275763.58340031331&type=1&theater

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Dixie,

    I guess I’m mistaken. If you click on my name you’ll see full details of who I am and my background. Even an email address..

  • Niall Noigiallach

    “Secondly the photo is clearly doctored, with people nearest the camera looking straight ahead, the oval on the ceiling nearest the camera going at an odd angle compared to the other two”

    Dixie, all joking aside, you need to get out for a pint and enjoy yourself mate. Seriously. You’re inspecting photos mate. You’re inspecting photos. You need to ask yourself in all seriousness, why are you actually doing that and how does it make your life better?

  • Dixie Elliott

    Sorry Mister Joe my apologies….

  • http://gravatar.com/joeharron Mister_Joe

    Thank you Dixie.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Niall Noigiallach I’m not doctoring photos in order to lie to the membership of my party.

    I noticed straight away that the photos didn’t look right and make the comment elsewhere. A photographer friend pmed me to say that the photo and another one from the far side was taken using a fisheye lens which distorts photos.

    In fact I later found out that The Devenish Arms has no function room which could hold over 500 people. The Grand Opera House’s largest function room holds at most 1061, while the Europa’s largest holds at most 750…

    So we have to believe that, according to Mary Lou and the likes of yourself, the Devenish arms has a function room about the size of or bigger than both the above’s combined function rooms.

  • Niall Noigiallach

    Dixie,

    ust a few weeks ago I marched into the city centre with several thousand others to Custom House Square but was informed via the media I was part of a crowd several hundred strong. A complete fabrication.

    Like I said, get out for a pint and chillax. Inspecting photos and giving The Devenish a bell to confirm numbers is overboard. Trust me Dixie, whether the Shinners had or not, I went there every Thursday night when I was 17 & 18 without fail for almost two years. So did everyone else my age in the west. That hall is big enough, believe me.

  • Dixie Elliott

    I actually googled it…

  • Charles_Gould

    Dixie – good spot.

    Given the low level of honesty generally associated with Gerry Adams when it comes to his claim of nonmembership of the IRA, I am not sure I would attach that much credence to other claims, especially those that flatter his ego.

  • tacapall

    “I went there every Thursday night when I was 17 & 18 without fail for almost two years. So did everyone else my age in the west. That hall is big enough, believe me”

    It depends what age you are now as there has been a few extensions added and a few name changes but was that press conference not in the Balmoral Hotel ?

  • Niall Noigiallach

    Tac,

    The one in the pic is the Devenish from Monday night, they had the Adams presser in the Balmoral on Sunday as far as I’m aware. There have been a few extensions added over the years to the wee outbuilding thingy and reception and the restuarant too but I’m 31 now just, the main hall in the pic has always roughly been the same size, they’ve moved the location of the bars in the hall about a bit just.

    “Dixie – good spot.”

    Cagney & Lacey over here. Lets try our best American accents then for this one: “Hey Charles, can you solve the mystery of the missing SDLP votes? They’ve been gone since 2001. Last seen in the company of one Mr M.Durkan. Have you any idea who he is?”

  • Politico68
  • Terry B

    Politico68,
    an interesting read from your Guardian link. Why do you think the PSNI accused Gerry of being an MI5 agent, from their intelligence file perhaps?

    Adams states in it “I rejected all allegations made about me in the Boston tapes, which have now been totally discredited. Historians from the college have made it clear that this “never was a Boston College History Department project”. A spokesman for the college has confirmed that it would be prepared to hand back interviews to those involved.

    I am innocent of any involvement in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs McConville, or of IRA membership. I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, but I am not uncritical of IRA actions and particularly the terrible injustice inflicted on Mrs McConville and her family. I very much regret what happened to them and their mother and understand the antipathy they feel towards republicans.”

    I noticed he didn’t deny the MI5 allegation, will the real StakeKnife please stand up!

  • Charles_Gould

    Niall

    In the last EU election, SF vote share fell and SDLP vote share rose.

  • Niall Noigiallach

    Charles,

    In the last EU election, the Sinn Fein candidate topped the poll. Let that sink in for a minute

  • http://www.selfhatinggentile.blogger.com tmitch57

    “As I have pointed out before, I am not and have never been a SF supporter or voter. However, I knew Attwood from my days at QUB and he was arrogant and patronizing.”

    @Monk,

    My only contact with Attwood was when I interviewed him for about an hour or so back in 1998 about SDLP complaints about illegal SF activity during election campaigns. I explained to him that I was writing a comparative book on Israel/Palestine, NI and South Africa and I was planning on writing a comparative chapter looking at liberation movements. He got upset about my applying the term liberation movement to SF and I explained to him that it was an organizing category and not an endorsement. He should have been smart enough to figure out that if I was taking time to interview him I wasn’t planning on writing a greenwash of the Shinners.