"If you can keep your head when all about you"

The Guardian assesses where we are after the drama of December and the events that followed, discusses the choices facing voters on both sides of the border who have voted or considered voting for Sinn Féin and wonders if it is time for Gerry Adams and co’ to step aside if they are unable to deliver the goods. Forward not back

At some point in this process, however, this effort demanded a fundamental act of reciprocity from republicanism Рan irreversible embrace of peaceful means at the expense of violence and criminality. The moment for that conclusive act seems at last to have been reached. It is make your mind up time for the IRA, Sinn F̩in and their supporters. And high time too.

Thus far, the response of Sinn Féin into this challenge has been inadequate. The vow to banish criminality from the republican movement is naturally encouraging, as far as it goes. But it is actions that count, not words. This is especially the case when the twisted theology of parts of republicanism, in which the possibility of a self-proclaimed political movement such as Sinn Féin or the IRA committing any act of criminality is still a contradiction in terms. This is a culture in which, all too often, to stab someone to death in a bar, as happened to Mr McCartney, to threaten witnesses not to talk to the police, or to rob a bank of millions of pounds do not qualify as criminal acts. Gerry Adams may talk of an end to criminality. But when he does so against the backdrop of a uniformed honour guard at an IRA commemoration it is meaningless to the outside world. It suggests that a new generation of republican leaders may be needed to take the great leap into lawful and democratic activity.

  • aquifer

    The red diesel republicans on the border may have their own ideas. Although when it comes to partition, they should at least declare a conflict of interest.


  • twinkilcooleywithcoxsdemesne

    The significance of this piece should not be underplayed.

    During the so called “peace process”, The Guardian maintained its traditional soft line on republicans – if Gerry could deliver, the backstage murders, abductions, protection rackets, dodgy business’, black mailings were all played down.

    It is therefore a clear sign of the changing fortunes of Adams et al, that said paper should feel compelled to write such a piece.

    It is irrelevant whether Adams et al are on the Army Council – they have been feted for the last ten years on the grounds that they could deliver the hard men of the IRA – the protection that is being afforded to the murderers of Robert McCartney, suggests, most clearly, that they are unable to do this.

    The Republican family, post Northern Bank raid is a dysfunctional one, and, as the head of the family, Adams must carry the can.

  • Davros

    the protection that is being afforded to the murderers of Robert McCartney, suggests, most clearly, that they are unable to do this.

    Unable or unwilling ?

    Gerry Adams is now even equivocating as to whether it was murder or manslaughter……

    Adams must come clean over McCartney murder – Kenny

    FINE Gael leader Enda Kenny last night rounded on Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams for referring to the murder of Belfast father of two Robert McCartney as “manslaughter”.

    Mr Kenny said Fine Gael had no time for Sinn Fein’s “twisted language or warped interpretations of criminality” which appeared to depend on whether crimes were committed by the IRA or not.

    “Even this morning on RTE radio we heard Mr Adams quickly correcting himself when referring to the murder of Robert McCartney. His amended description was to downgrade this appalling crime to one of ‘manslaughter’ or just a ‘killing’.

    “This slip of the tongue reveals the true attitude of Sinn Fein,” said the Fine Gael leader.

  • DessertSpoon

    Manslaughter – so they didn’t mean to kill him just poke him a bit with the sharp bit of a knife. Don’t mean to sound flippant but c’mon Gerry catch yourself on!!! Next thing you know all that money will just have been a long term loan with a very favourable 0% interest rate over forever!

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Any ideas about who a potential alternative Sinn Fein leadership might include? (Without necessarily thinking of who might be leader, who might be the key players?)

    Maybe Pat Doherty, Alex Maskey, Bairbre DeBrun and Sean Crowe?

    Maybe even a role for McGuinness? (Maybe I am wrong in this, but am I mistaken in believing that McGuinness isn’t nearly as hated among unionists as Adams is?)

  • Davros

    Billy your team sounds good except that I don’t know a lot about Mr Crowe. Saw him interviewed on TV the other night and he came across well.

    Not sure if I’d go as far as saying that M McG isn’t as hated as Adams, but he has more respect for admitting that he was in the IRA.

  • johnhidd

    Maybe even a role for McGuinness? (Maybe I am wrong in this, but am I mistaken in believing that McGuinness isn’t nearly as hated among unionists as Adams is?)

    (Posted by: Billy Pilgrim at February 24, 2005 05:17 PM)

    Yes, BP, you are mistaken. They are equally loathed.

  • Young Fogey

    Pat Doherty, Alex Maskey, Bairbre DeBrun and Sean Crowe

    Wow! The dream team. With leadership like that, I can’t wait to get the polling station.

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Those are just a few of the personalities in the party that came to mind, others exist too. Conor Murphy maybe?

    Was thinking of Crowe because they’ll need someone senior in Dail Eireann. O’Caoileann is too closely linked to the present leadership, O’Snodaigh is a bit of a liability. And as for Ferris…

    Which leaves Crowe and Morgan, so it’s lucky for the Shinners that Crowe is a) a very able operator, and b) more identified with combatting social problems in run-down areas of Dublin than actual comabt in the north.

    Doherty is actually quite low-key for a party vice president and is far more of a behind-the-scenes man, which Sinn Fein will still need. Maskey is highly respected, and I think perhaps even has some kudos among unionists, though they’d never admit it. DeBrun is the ultimate aparatchik – ideal vice president material maybe?

    Murphy has the chops for a senior role too – he’s a former prisoner but you wouldn’t really know it the way you would with Gerry Kelly. He’ll probably be in Newry and Armagh for a long time.

    You might see promotions for guys from the intellectual wing like Eoin O’Broin, for proven performers like Pearse Doherty, and duracell bunnies like Barry McElduff.

    But I suppose the question is who the new party president might be? If Adams was to go, and given that his replacement with McGuinness of Gerry Kelly would defeat the purpose of his resignation, who would that leave?

    Doherty? Maybe even McLoughlin?

    Who else would have to join Adams, McGuinness and Kelly going out the fuinneog?

    What do you think Davros?

  • barnshee

    (Maybe I am wrong in this, but am I mistaken in believing that McGuinness isn’t nearly as hated among unionists as Adams is?)

    yes you ARE wrong

  • Christopher Stalford

    Very, very wrong.

    Martin McGuiness = evil personified

  • Billy Pilgrim

    Okay lads, okay, I get the message.

  • PaddyCanuck

    One thing I guarantee if and when there is a change of leadership in Sinn Fein, nobody will be polling Davros et al for advice on which candidates unionists would find appealing.

    You are as likely to see the DUP setting up focus groups in TwinBrook and Cross.

  • Davros

    If you read what I said P-C you might see how silly that comment looks. I have heard people say things like “at least McGuinness is honest about …” so in that respect he is respected more than Adams. But remember they are starting from far into negative equity, so it’s only relative. As I said, I wouldn’t go so far as to say that McGuinness is less hated.