Adams interview: moving forward in defence…

Gerry Adams gave the most impressive performance yet in Sinn Fein’s counteroffensive on Morning Ireland yesterday. Indeed it was text book lesson in how to conduct yourself under hostile media questioning.

He dispatched the idea that Sinn Fein knew about the robbery in advance saying categorically, that neither he nor the negotiating team knew anything of the operation beforehand.

He also suggested that the fact that the IRA’s denial, which came out before its new year message, was not signed by P O’Neill was nothing more than a game of Scrabble, sponsored mainly by governments and other political parties.

Interestingly, when asked if local people should offer any evidence they might have to the PSNI, he suggested that “they may not want to go to the authorities, they may want to go to some respected member of the community instead”.

His best shot was a gentle forward defensive that would have been worthy of the best Geoffrey Boycott poke. He simply stated that whoever the robbers were, “those people were wrong”. It provides a functionable answer that will no doubt carry separate messages to the politically committed, but may just get him the benefit of other voters.

Perhaps the most contentious part of the interview was his assertion that most of the criticism of his party was coming from an establishment made up of parties which “had roundly condemned the Hume Adams talks, who were never for this peace process anyway, except in their own terms”.

For a party reportedly focused on the Dail elections as its next big objective it’s a good point to make on national radio in the Republic. No doubt it will have brought to the mind of many listeners the sometimes shrill anti-Sinn Fein rhetoric of papers such as the Sunday Independent.

However it ignores one of the most striking aspects of this last week’s press: the tipping of the liberal and nationalist press in Britain and Ireland decidedly away from the suspension of disbelief over the operational split between Sinn Fein and the IRA.

The party may know better than most of its critics just what risk it is taking in alienating the few independent supporters it still has in the mainstream press. It may have good grounds to dismiss the possibility that its main nationalist rival the SDLP being able to capitalise on the disgruntlement of middle class nationalists.

But it’s also worth noting that one of the distinguishing features of this crime, aside from the scale, is that the most immediate and visible victims were aspirational middle class nationalists. However you cut it, that won’t play well in the suburbs of Derry, Enniskillen, Newry, Armagh and Belfast.

  • armaghman

    Many people have consistently said that there is no difference between IRA and Sinn Fein, they are the one body. Yet if the IRA have carried out this robbery to the clear embarassment of Sinn Fein it shows they are separate. Are they now going to say sorry. I don’t think so

  • Visioner

    The reason Sinn Fein/IRA did it was because they thought they could get off with it. After all they have got off with Columbia (except for the 3!), Flordia, Castlereagh, Stormontgate etc, etc.

    Armaghman, do you think the Government really wanted this to happen at such a crucial time in the process? In November they were pushing for a break through, they want the Assembly to be restored asap.

    They wouldn’t have pointed the finger at the IRA if they weren’t sure as they knew what the consequences for the political front would be.

    Sinn Fein/IRA have no one to blame but themselves.

  • El Matador

    Gerry Adams didn’t seem too calm under pressure in today’s Irish Times. Was very defensive and unwilling to engage. Looks nervous.

  • DavidS

    I’d like to apologise armaghman. Before the robbery, I thought the Sinn Fein and IRA were a disciplined and cohesive political force, pursuing a carefully thought-through strategy. I now realise I was wrong. Sorry.

  • DerryTerry

    Visioner

    Your claim that they would not have pointed the finger unless they were sure is slightly devalued with the news that the invasion of Iraq and the murder of tens of thousands of Iraqi’s was based on a lie, sorry flawed intelligence, that Tony Blair peddled at the behest of Bush and company.

    Considered in the light of the untruths that are peddled day and daily by government departments and ministers, ranging from Iraq to water charges, lying about a bank robbery would be small change.

  • Davros

    DT- why would they lie when that “lie” destroys their efforts of the past 20 years ?

  • Dec

    Maybe because they now finally realise that agreement (nevermind reconciliation) is impossible between the leading strands of nationalism and unionism so what better way to move on is to dump one side (guess which one?) as painlessly as possible (branding not only the organisation but the actual leaders and elected representatives as thieves will help a lot – if you keep electing this lot they’ll rob your life-savings too!). Now all they need to do is convince the SDLP to go into power-sharing arrangements with the other Unionist parties and hey presto!, issue resolved.

  • Dec

    Furthermore

    Interesting why this hasn’t been referenced by any media report I’m aware of. Then again, I’m told loyalists don’t have the sophistication to plan these things.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/northern_ireland/4056471.stm

  • Davros

    They could have done that at any time Dec. God knows there have been plenty of valid reasons – Florida arms smuggling etc. It doesn’t make sense to claim that it’s all down to Brit duplicity. It’s been painful and unpleasant, but their strategy (the 2 governments) has worked well since 1985. What people are claiming would be like the old joke about the fella trying to swim the channel who, a mile from France, says “I cannot go on, it’s too far” and turns round and swims home.

  • Davros

    That’s hilarious Dec… the fact that the Loyalists were caught before the robbery is the clue matey!

  • ShayPaul

    “DT- why would they lie when that “lie” destroys their efforts of the past 20 years ?”

    Maybe because they realise that Dr No won’t do the deal with SF.
    Now that means the process is on hold for a while.
    Let’s have a look at the calendar, elections !!!
    SF making progress north and SOUTH – this is where the plug must be pulled and rather quickly, Bertie needs Tony’s help.
    Watch this space and see what Bertie will do for Tony in exchange – then all will become crystal clear.

    PS

    Why not attack Dr No ? – I hear you ask.

    Maybe because he makes enough gaffs himself without needing to be attacked and secondly he’s on a time limited lease.

  • J Kelly

    Visioner you have to understand the poeple who are pointing the finger are the people who pointed the finger at Pat Finucane and sixteen years later they are still trying to cover it up to avoid the political consequences. So lying about a bank robbery compared to ordering the murder of a human rights lawyer its chicken feed. Just because Hugh Orde said it doesn’t make it true. Show the evidence is the simplest way out of this mess.

  • Dec

    Davros

    Unlike the dogs on the street, I don’t know who carried it out but there is clearly something amiss here (apart from the money). We’re told only the provos had the sophistication to carry this off – nonsense. People were spotted wearing wigs and carrying baseball bats outside a bank off Donegall Square West. How sophisticated is that? The media reported that the van was filmed travelling up the Grosvenor Road by CCTV. The PSNI now deny this. Stolen Northern bank notes turn up in a loyalist area in Craigavon. The PSNI say they’re not linked to this robbery (how many times has the Northern Bank been robbed recently?) and now a laughable, obviously planted story from an unnamed ‘Loyalist source’ says loyalist gangs are buying stolen money from the IRA and that they should stop appears in the newsletter. So was the money linked or wasn’t it?
    Something smells.

  • DerryTerry

    Davros, having forgotten to take my mind reading tablet this morning I am unable to state, based on the intelligence that i have at my disposal at this time, why or indeed if they would lie.

    What i can say, however, is that the existing evidence suggests that they have lied in the past and may well lie again in the future. As a result i am urging caution when we are offered intelligence or opinions from sources that have in the past been flawed.

    In fact, if anyone wants to speculate as to who benefits from the IRA being blamed for doing the bank I’d be interested to read their opinions.

  • Davros

    The surprise of 2004 was that Papa Doc WAS prepared to do a deal with SF. SF were caught on the hop.

  • Davros

    DT – everybody lies, it’s politics. Logic dictates that lies are told to aid one’s ambitions, not to damage them. So, what logic is there to explain why after numerous other events that could perfectly reasonably have been used to scrap the process, they would choose to destroy 20 years of work ?

  • Dec

    Davros

    So the fact that a UDA gang is currently in prison facing charges of attempting to imprison a bank official in order to rob a Belfast bank at the end of November has no bearing whatsover into the investigation as to who robbed a Belfast bank by imprisoning bank officials at the end of December?

  • Davros

    Dec, the fact that a loyalist gang were caught shows their relative incompetence. That’s the point.

    Incidentally, It’s only a few weeks ago that Pat Doherty was using Dogs in The Street evidence about Tiger Raids in Strabane. That sort of thing was OK for SF when the spotlight wasn’t on them 😉

  • Dec

    I accept the point about the Strabane comments, but to suggest that the UDA are ruled out because one of their gangs had previously been caught is facile. Or can the IRA never again smuggle in weapons after Florida?

  • mickhall

    The only sophisticated thing about this robbery was gaining the information to access the bank and its vaults. As we now know from the Brinks-Mat gold job even this does not have to be that sophisticated, i.e. in that job someone working in the bullion holding centre was the brother in law of one of the robbers, hardly rocket science. Most crime is pretty simple, often based on good ears, craftiness, the willingness to use the threat of violence and balls.

  • DerryTerry

    Davros, if everybody is lying we cann’t believe anybody and on that basis Hugh Orde’s opinion is as worthwile as yours or mine, although i might just be saying that.

    As to the motivation for lying, that is a bit more complicated. People lie for all sorts of reasons. For example some people might lie because they don’t want to look any more stupid than events have demonstrated them to be. Others might lie because, as you say, it is to their benefit or furthers their aims. Still others might even lie about what their objectives might be and to round it off it might even happen that different people tell the same lies for different reasons.

    At this stage my head is starting to hurt and i still don’t know who to believe amongst all these liars.

    PS are you telling the truth?

  • maca

    “Dec, the fact that a loyalist gang were caught shows their relative incompetence. That’s the point.”

    On the other hand Davros, the IRA have had a number of foiled operations over the years, does that not make them incompetent?
    The UDA manage to run drug operations which obviously takes a certain amount of brains.
    Lets not forget the Dublin & Mn bombings (although quite a while back now) were very professional.

    I just wouldn’t rule them out that’s all.

    Was there any great skill to this bank robbery? To me it doesn’t look like it would have taken a criminal mastermind to pull it off. 😉

  • Mick Fealty

    Anyone care to comment on the post itself (not compulsory)?

  • Dec

    Contrary to what you say about this not going down too well in middle-class Nationalist homes, in the absence of any information (let alone evidence or charges) implicating the RM as opposed to inuendo, opinion and supposition, there’s a growing sense of deja-vu (Castlereagh, Stormontgate) and could actually benefit SF.

  • Davros

    Anyone care to comment on the post itself (not compulsory)?

    Nice post Mick! 😉

    Maca – no side is 100% efficient. However the success rate for republican heists is considerably higher. Add to that the fact that there’s a greater conviction rate of Loyalists compared to Republicans , and I think my argument holds.

    DT PS are you telling the truth?

    It’s a fair cop, you got me bang to rights, Can I resort to Clinton-style word games as played by MM
    over the meaning of truth?

  • maca

    “However the success rate for republican heists is considerably higher. Add to that the fact that there’s a greater conviction rate of Loyalists compared to Republicans , and I think my argument holds.”

    I’m not convinced 😉
    Remember to also factor in the fact that there is little or no nationalist trust/support for the police. If there were more trust perhaps there would be a lot more convictions.
    It could have been a PIRA operation but I haven’t yet seen any argument which convinces me to rule out loyalists. Or for that matter ex-IRA or any other groups.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘However the success rate for republican heists is considerably higher. Add to that the fact that there’s a greater conviction rate of Loyalists compared to Republicans , and I think my argument holds.’

    Could you give us a few examples of successful republican heists, but lets not have an impression of Hugh Orde and give us evidence to support your theory.
    Maybe the conviction rate for loyalists is higher because they are responsible for most of the crime.

  • Davros

    Pat- I’ll stay with the dogs in the streets – as approved by SF (eg Pat Doherty)when it suits them –
    Makro and loads of Ciggie hijacks.

    Maybe the conviction rate for loyalists is higher because they are responsible for most of the crime.

    Responsibility for deaths in NI, republicans have killed many more than Loyalists – but I forgot, according to Martin and Gerry Killing people ISN’T a crime when it’s republicans doing the killing ….

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Davros.,

    ‘Makro and loads of Ciggie hijacks’

    You’re in Noel Thompson territory there, he lokked a bit put out when Mc Guinnes pulled him on those and the diesel.

    ‘Responsibility for deaths in NI, republicans have killed many more than Loyalists – but I forgot, according to Martin and Gerry Killing people ISN’T a crime when it’s republicans doing the killing ….’

    On the other thread you complained about historical cases, now you’re giving out historical stats. Consistency please.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    Could you give us a few examples of successful republican heists

    Well, I guess ‘successful’ rules out the attempted Adare hold-up…

  • Christopher Stalford

    Pat

    “You’re in Noel Thompson territory there, he lokked a bit put out when Mc Guinnes pulled him on those and the diesel.”

    I’m no great fan of Thompson, but I must say, he absolutely cleaned the floor with McGuinness last night. Without doubt it was the worst performance I have ever seen Martin McGuinness give.

    Only you Pat, could think that Thompson looked put out last nite.

    And the final scoreline folks, Thompson 10 McGuinness 0. A thrashing.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Mick, the point you make in the final paragraph is interesting. The point has often been made that the provos benefit from a faustian pact in which a blind eye is turned to violence provided it is inflicted only on members of the nationalist community. It may turn out that the dispensation was somewhat narrower, and that these days only working class catholics are legitimate targets.

  • Davros

    Pat, I’m on safe ground with dogs on the street knowledge unless you want to give Pat Doherty a hard time ….

  • Davros

    And I notice that you avoid discussing that republicans killed considerably more people than loyalists Pat.

  • Davros

    Underlying problem – those who come to politics from a violent past have to learn that everything they say in the public domain is a hostage to fortune.
    Nobody with any wit would remind, at a crucial and embarrassing time in a private room , a senior Provo that he said something completely different in the past. So It’s difficult for them to deal with their words being quoted back at them on TV or in the papers. Must be extra confusing for those riding two horses as it were.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Davros,

    it is a historical fact that the IRA killed more people than loyalists. So what exactly are you on about.
    The fact of the matter is that since the GFA the overwhelming majority of killings and violence has come from unionist paramilitaries, that is something you and other unionists always try to ignore.

    Christopher,

    Thompson wanted an argument and he got it. He was asked for proof on some of his accusations, he got surly and a bit pale, pure magic.

  • Davros

    it is a historical fact that the IRA killed more people than loyalists. So what exactly are you on about.

    I’m “on about” SF , the IRA and now apparently you thinking that when the IRA kill people they aren’t committing a crime Pat.

    I pointed out that the police have a higher conviction rate of Loyalists than Republicans.

    You came back with : Maybe the conviction rate for loyalists is higher because they are responsible for most of the crime.

    I replied : Responsibility for deaths in NI, republicans have killed many more than Loyalists – but I forgot, according to Martin and Gerry Killing people ISN’T a crime when it’s republicans doing the killing ….

    Summary: When I point out that the Republicans Killed many more than the Loyalists, You get all precious.