Adams in America: Dog Day Afternoon with Warren Hoge…

THE US Council on Foreign Affairs interviewed Gerry Adams the other day in Washington (audio here). In a wide-ranging conversation which gave Adams plenty of time to put across his position, the Sinn Fein leader emphasised his need to keep republicanism united. But was there another ‘Moment of Madridness’ when he appeared to suggest that money seized by police investigating money laundering in the Irish Republic could eventually be traced back to the IRA?

In response to a point from Warren Hoge about the Garda investigation, Gerry Adams seemed to almost expect a connection to be made:

Well, the garda may be finding lots of money, and fair play to them. But there’s no connection back between that money thus far-thus far. Now we could wake up tomorrow morning and there could be the evidence. But thus far there is none.

Earlier, Adams set out his stall, explaining how he wants Sinn Fein to replace the IRA:

So I think this is at a failing point. That’s my very, very strong view. The difficulty with doing events like this is that in the eye of the storm you can’t send, and you can’t outline precisely what you want to do to bring the process into another phase because we are going through a phase. The whole process is in a transition. All society in Ireland is in transition, and that includes republicans. So you know, you may want to ask supplementaries, but I mean, my short take on this is, as I have said, one, Sinn Fein does want to bring about an end to the IRA; two, Sinn Fein, I think with others, will be successful in achieving that; and then, three, for Irish republicans, the alternative to the IRA has to be Sinn Fein. But we have to be the vehicle towards democracy and peace and justice in Ireland, and we are totally committed to democratic and peaceful means to both [inaudible] the peace process and then move beyond the peace process towards Irish unity.

However, when it’s suggested to Adams that this has been the situation for some time and he perhaps ought to move on it, he argues that it isn’t actually in Sinn Fein’s gift to enforce retirement on the IRA, and that Sinn Fein’s increasing vote is not related to the desire for the IRA to go away:

Well, you see, I think, you know, implicit or even explicit in your question is that it’s within the authority of Sinn Fein to bring this about, and it isn’t within the authority of Sinn Fein to bring this about.

But even if it isn’t possible for Sinn Fein to deliver a demobilised IRA, Adams argues that he himself is actually integral to efforts to do so:

If Sinn Fein-because I could stand up tomorrow and declare Sinn Fein new, new Sinn Fein. I could stand up tomorrow. Others have done that. In his time, [rebel leader and former Irish prime minister] Eamon De Valera did that. Did that get rid of the issue of physical force, republicanism? It didn’t. Other leaders, not as prominent as De Valera, in our time and over the last 20 or 30 years, have done exactly the same thing. Did that get rid of the issue of the IRA? No, it didn’t. And what we have to do is to take-and my service to this process, by the way, is in my ability to bring people with me. Once I cease to be able-or [Sinn Fein official] Martin McGuinness or the rest of our leadership-once we cease to be able to bring people with us, then we cease to be of any service to this overall process. So what we have to do is to bring people through this transition and out the other side, and leave republicanism in a situation where there aren’t elements within it who have some sense of hanging on or recommencing a war or recommencing conflict and so on.

So in seeking to have it both ways, Adams seems to be saying that he should not be excluded, but avoids having to take the responsibility for the IRA’s exit, which he believes should be dignified – a far cry from current circumstances. It’s worth remarking that Adams uses the word ‘alternative’ seven times, mostly in relation to the choice facing republicans who might have an attachment to the IRA – vote Sinn Fein or vote Sinn Fein.

Admitting that Sinn Fein had lost the initiative after the Northern Bank heist and the McCartney killing (only occasionally is it a “murder” for Sinn Fein), Adams said that he thought “we will sort out the policing issue”.

I was quite prepared to go to our party leadership just before the new year to say to them, “Let’s have a special conference and let’s sort this out.” Will we get that opportunity again? In my view, yes.

So there’s that carrot again – policing, the issue that resonates most with Americans – but I was wondering what Adams was getting at when he said:

“The Northern Bank robbery was totally and absolutely wrong, it should not have happened, and any other actions that one could conceive of, and all-all-because there is now an alternative. There’s now a way to move forward through entirely peaceable and democratic means.

This statement is very odd. Adams is suggesting that the Northern robbery should not have happened because there is a democratic alternative. But if Adams believes it wasn’t the IRA that carried out the robbery, why is he suggesting that a group with political objectives was responsible? Normal criminals don’t need a democratic alternative. Aside from Hoge’s intro (in which he was careful not to directly blame the IRA himself), no-one had mentioned the robbery apart from Adams.

Adams seems to be working on the same assuption that everyone else is.

I was amused when Adams then (deliberately?) mixed his metaphors:

I don’t want to spend my life having the same dog’s day or whatever the name is-groundhog day?-a million times.

No, Gerry. You were right the first time. Dog Day Afternoon, which was obviously the first movie reference there (geddit yet?), is a film described in the Internet Movie Database thus:

Tagline: The robbery should have taken 10 minutes. 4 hours later, the bank was like a circus sideshow. 8 hours later, it was the hottest thing on live T.V. 12 hours later, it was all history. And it’s all true

Plot Outline: A man robs a bank to pay for his lover’s operation; it turns into a hostage situation and a media circus.

Who says Gerry Adams doesn’t have a sense of humour?

  • Davros

    Nonsense Henry – according to you only those who vote for nationalist parties are members of the nationalist community and only those who vote for Unionist parties are members of the unionist community. That’s a ridiculous claim.

    I’m a member of the unionist community. I vote SEA and SDLP. That knocks your definition on the head .

  • DXI

    Jeez! Eureka! I HAVE GOT IT!
    Half of the Nationalist votes went to NON-NATIONALISTS! So obvious now. How could I have missed that?

    Wait… come than that the non-Nationalists only got 23%? This is SO, like, difficult. Man, you must have the cranium of a petrodactyl to cope with this stuff.

    I am really glad I found this site. I think I may nest here.

  • Davros

    DXI – Plenty of the electorate don’t support the antics of ANY of the politicians – either nationalist or Unionist.

    The mathematics are simple. I’m using approximate figured for ease

    Total electorate: more than 1,100,000

    If we allow 45% of that 1,100,000 as members of the nationalist community, that takes us to around 500,000 nationalist voters.

    SF’s Total vote was 162,758

    163,000 is roughly A THIRD of 500,000.

    It’s nowhere near between 60 and 70 %.

    SF got the votes of a minority of the minority.

  • vespasian


    This is Northern Ireland I’m not quite sure of how much you really know about here.

    1. There are 2 electorates one nationlist favouring a united Ireland and 1 unionist favouring a continued link with GB.

    2. We have seen enough Belfast Telegraph opinion poles to know that the rough split of the electorate today is 40/45 pro United Ireland 55/60 pro the UK allowing for statistical inaccuracies.

    3. If we take the the electorate at about 1.1m that would give the nationlist vote at somewhere between 440k and 500k

    4. The SF vote was about 162k giving them between 32 and 37% of the nationalist pro UI vote, SDLP got about 23 to 27% of the same vote, so 45% of the vote stayed at home. (incidentally it could be argued that the non voters are more likely to be SDLP as SF tend to get its votes out, but I have no data to back that up)

    5. This also means that SF represent about 16 to 19% of the total electorate not exactly a total that gives them a veto over the 80+% of the electorate who didn’t vote for them.

  • Henry94


    You lie. I never mentioned the word community. Because you didn’t. The word you used was electorate. That was the definition in question and I’ll take your squirming as an acceptence that you were wrong.

  • DXI

    Mmmmmm. Yep. So what you are really saying is the the turnout was 60%? Sheet. I KNEW that.

  • DXI

    Vespasian. How can you presume to speak for people who DIDN’T VOTE? Surely they could all be Provos?

  • Davros

    Henry – in the context of the discussion between DXI and Myself – we were discussing the nationalist population. DXI claims that 60-70% of the nationalist population support SF. I have shown that to be untrue.

    What you tried to do was tippex out those people in our communities who don’t support political parties.
    That’s disgracefully Stalinist of you.

  • Davros

    DXI –

    How many votes did SF get in that 2003 election ?

    What was the total electorate elegible to vote ?

    Assuming you accept that roughly 45 % of the electorate are nationalist community, what is the nationalist electorate ?

    What % of that is the SF vote acheived in 2003.

    You claimed between 60 and 70 %….
    The figures show half that, approximately a third of the nationalist electorate supported SF.

  • Davros

    Anyway, I’m off to bed, I’ll bid you all farewell.

  • DXI

    I’m already asleep Davo…zzzzzzzzzzzz! Nite.

  • Henry94


    Stalin always insisted on a 100% turnout. Any abstainers certainly wouldn’t be around to abstain a second time. Like you it insisted on putting a political label on everybody. But at least you allow for two labels.

    For me people can choose
    or not choose their own.

    I count votes and support in the way everybody in the democratic word does and they way you do except when you are talking about Sinn Fein.

  • SlugFest


    “So you say pat…what page is this on ? I never take anything from SF or apparachiks on trust.Remember the statement about SF’s man in Cuba ? 😉 “

    Moloney did in fact say the McConville was a low-level British agent … hard copy, first (American) edition … page 125 … second paragraph.

  • Alan McDonald

    I just wanted to use this thread to apologize as a citizen of the US. When voters in the last NI Assembly election put SF and the DUP at the top of the polls, I said that the inmates had taken over the mad house. Last November here in America, we did the same thing. Today’s shameful intervention by the US government in the Schiavo right-to-die case is proof that the rule of law is dead.

  • Mick Fealty

    I’d just like to say that Gonzo’s piece at the beginning was excellent. If the Dog Day reference was deliberate, does anyone think this may signal the possibility that the Police have some positive leads on who actually did the robbery?

    If this does prove to be the case, then surely GA gets top marks for an elegant mid-play swerve!?