On BBC ‘s Hard Talk programme, Stephen Sackur grills Gerry Adams on his party’s performance in the last year… Adams does reasonably well, though Sackur clearly gets under his skin once or twice. I’ve clipped some of the most memorable bits… He argues strongly that there had always been a pro settlement line of thinking inside the Republican movement. He refers to a speech he made at Bodenstown back in 1977 arguing that his party’s fight with the British was a political problem and that it could not be solved by military means…
To connote the success of the process he described Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness as Siamese twins, although I suspect the real point he was driving at was the joint character of the two offices McGuinness is not a Deputy in the usual sense of that term…
Much of the rest of the programme focused on Sinn Fein’s poor showing in the May elections in the Republic… Although interestingly Adams admits that Irish unity is not inevitable, and that his party is engaged on more of a journey: “come back and talk to me in a decade or two and we’ll talk about it then…”
Sackur: “Face reality in Europe you are part of a tiny far left rump block with 7 national communist parties. There are 750 examples of Foreign Direct Investment, growth rates of 5%, some of the lowest taxes in Europe… SF policies do not match the reality of the Celtic Tiger… Ireland has changed unbelievably, SF has not…”
Adams: “SF has. What we have to do is to find a way to communicate our message.”
Sackur: “Do you think that the Irish people find attractive a party that affiliates itself with communist parties across Europe?”
Given the southern electorate’s abandonment of anyone but it’s historically strong parties, it’s an important question. Sackur then went on to quote (16.50 in) my own analysis from the Guardian’s Comment is Free…
Paradoxically for a party founded with the explicit purpose of getting rid of “foreign” political influence on the island, in this election at least, it came across as foreign.
It did not go down well. Although Adams went on, correctly as it happens, to point out that a lot of pundits got the election campaign wrong (including me: just scan this thread at Irishelection.com, in which I rated Adams best performer in the minor debate).
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty