When Adams Falls, Who Benefits?

Squinter’s column has hit a raw nerve somewhere, generating some 51 comments (so far) on his blog, which was, until now, a tumbleweed winding across the desert end of cyberspace. Most of the comments are generally supportive, as for once he is actually articulating the honest view of many in West Belfast. But he has managed to get up the nose of some party faithful – which apparently has come as a surprise to him. Still, the question of what it actually means is debatable; after all, Squinter himself has been no friend to those who have been saying much the same thing over the years, using his column and paper to silence and belittle those who had the courage to question Adams and his leadership when it wasn’t popular to do so. And let us not forget also that the British government has given significant financial support to the Andersonstown News which has no doubt skewed its pro-peace process, pro-Sinn Fein editorial line (£1,275,412 as of June, 2005). So what are they at now? We have seen informers close to Adams being exposed, which has damaged his credibility, especially so in the wake of his disastrous performance in the southern election. The revelations in Jonathan Powell’s book aren’t helping, either. Can Squinter’s piece can be seen as another salvo in what looks like a push against Adams; or is it “managed criticism”, meant to draw the sting away, much as Eoin O’Broin’s article in the wake of the southern elections was seen to be doing? If Adams is being pushed, who does that leave standing but McGuinness, a man the British are quite comfortable doing business with, and so too, Unionists. The Irish Times and the Guardian have picked up on the article, with Adams dismissing Robin Livingstone as an “anonymous scribe”. Some choice comments from his blog follow.

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 13:44

well said squinter. i’m a 22 year vet of the RM, voted for adams and endorsed the political direction believing it would bring a measure of social justice to our communities. now all i see is a very wealthy leadership who have abandoned west belfast to the hoods and scumbags: it is more dangerous living here than at any time during the war. but that doesn’t matter to adams and co. they have their “other” properties a million miles away from the mess they have left in west belfast. the leadership betrayed our loyalty to them. Despair is all we have left to show for our noble efforts.

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 13:55

Squinter is well named. Bad eyesight and a brain to match. Look at where we were 25 years ago when Gerry Adams was elected MP for this area and where we are today. The situation has been transformed. We are in a better place with great opportunities for the future. Are there still problems? of course there are. But it seems to me that the next election will not eb the first Squinter has stayed at home for. But then given your salary you can afford to. The rest of us will get on with trying to make a better place for our kids and Squinters as well.

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 14:41

Poor old Squinter… well seen the ‘Big Guy’ didn’t do 20 years at anything… come to think of it, how would Squinter know anything about Long Kesh lectures unless he heard about them over a pint in the Roddies? Having said that – fair’s fair – Squinter has spent all his time during Gerry A’s tenure as MP helping to turn the Andytown News from a staunch and courageous community flagship into an crappy advertising sheet for cheap labour and off-licences. And on that basis alone Squinter’s entitled to shout and squeal from the sidelines… and anyway how long is it since Squinter gave up ‘balefully’ standing on the other side of the barricades so he could sup tea in that sumptuous button back leather armchair with the Chief… ’bout five years of retirement now, isn’t that right Squinter?

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 16:02

As a Sinn Fein activist, let me start by thanking Squinter for having the courage to honestly make his case against the leadership of my own party for letting down the people of west Belfast.

It gives me no pleasure to state that I believe he is correct in his criticisms. As republicans, we have succeeded in a number of key initiatives in the past 10 to 15 years, not least bringing an end to the war and negotiating a compromise which brought an end to centuries of British and unionist domination over nationalists. For that success, the Irish people- not least the catholic and nationalist people of the six counties- will remain indebted to the current leadership of Sinn Fein.

But our leadership has failed to date to develop the same strategic approach to what I would term ‘real politics,’ i.e. those everyday issues affecting people’s lives beyond the politics of the British-Irish conflict.

To this day, Sinn Fein has no economic policy nor economic spokesperson of note in the Assembly, which explains why the DUP has been permitted to shape economic policy for the new Executive without so much as a word from our leaders.

The leadership of Sinn Fein has never prioritised the development of imaginative, coherent and effective strategies and policies to tackle problems as diverse as tourism, enterprise, agriculture, health, transport nor education (the consequences of those failings regarding the last area being painfully obvious at this moment in time.)

Consequently, we have been left with a political leadership which has found itself exposed as the new era of ‘bread and butter’ politics has emerged.

As worrying, the similar shortcomings of a middle-ranking leadership and panel of political advisors employed by the party have been exposed, given that the expertise of these respected individuals belongs to the conflict era and not an era in which professional, political and legal expertise is the currency of worth.

For west Belfast, this has meant Sinn Fein has yet to take the initiative in developing a tourist nor economic development strategy, never mind getting beyond the type of nonsensical ramblings of one MLA recently defending the right of young thugs to not have their criminal records revealed after they turn eighteen.

I mustn’t have been alone in our community for wishing that our political leaders had’ve taken a leaf out of Ian Og’s book and use the negotiations with the Brits to bring economic investment and transport improvements to our communities!

The time has long since come for the Sinn Fein leadership to address the mammoth shortcomings within our party in terms of the failure to develop tangible policies and strategies to improve the lives of our people.

Squinter should not be lambasted for his contribution. Rather, he should be praised by genuine republicans and we in Sinn Fein should commit ourselves to delivering the policies our people deserve.

Sinn Fein activist,
West Belfast

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 17:30

Communities need leadership, that was why i supported sinn Fein. i think Gerry Adams tries his best, but has depended on his councillors and MLAs to be the voice of communities and give leadership at local level. This is where the problem lies. For the most part they are a bunch of time wasters and play no part in the development of the upper springfield. they will of course respond with a list of ‘we do this’ and have done this’ I went to a number of meetings attended by these so called councillors and felt they were taking up space reserved for someone with intelligence. How they were elected was anybodys guess. The upper springfield safer neighbourhood scheme is another farce……..gerry will send them into the lower falls to initiate something there, while the murph goes into recline. Jobs for the toothless boys.

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 20:08

Is this the News Letter or Telegraph or was squinter on the swall with Willie Frazer.Well Squinter, you and your mate must of had a few jars when you started talking Politics and Gerry bashing in the Roddies on St Pats Day. I can just hear the many romatic republican tunes playig in the background eulogising all those dead and sacrificed republicans. They didnt die so you could sing about them squinter. Maybe you should have been standing outside the off license in west belfast with your rag of a newspaper (which will never be bought by me again) showing all the kids the latest offers off alco pops that were on sale advertised in your rag. As a young republican who has family members buried in the milltown plot i say shame on your paper. Next time one of your papers go down the pan Mr O Mullieor dont be asking Gerry A for help, ask squinter and the super provos he was gargling with on St Pats Day. Maybe it was Anthony Mc Intyre he was drinking with. Need I say More.
PS: Community Newspaper my Backside. Make money for O Mullieor more like it.

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 20:18

I whole-heartedly agree with the substance of Squinters article. I have been a Sinn Fein voter for the last 20 years but will never agin give them my vote. I lived in the Lower Falls for all of my life and still have family living there. I fear for their safety every day and night. Whilst the Sinn Fein hierarchy have indeed abandoned us for holiday homes all over Ireland and Europe, the real residents are forced to deal with what they can’t or won’t. They have led us into a stabilised Northern Ireland with no foreseeable end, only dreams of the 32 County Socialist republic that all genuine Repulicans yearn for. Yes, politics is a great career. The only difference in Britsih Direct Rule and Stormont administration is that Sinn Fein ministers and MLA’s get the big fat cat wages. They have disgraced a noble ideology. The ultimate irony is that men like Bap McGreevy who fought to free us from British rule and to guarantee freedom for all citizens is murdered by the lowest dregs of our own society. Not British troops, not the RUC or their Loyalist proxys, but a child of people raised on his own doorstep. Maybe CRJ and Sinn Fein will organise a lunch in the Balmoral or a black tie dinner in the Europa to discuss the matter with their new comrades in the PSNI. We were better off with the IRA looking after our areas. I WISH THEY HADN’T GONE AWAY, YOU KNOW!!

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 20:28

So the mask slips. Squinter, that closet SDLP middle-class wannabe, deigns to turn his sideways look on some real issues facing the people of west Belfast. The people whose money gave him the comfortable lifestyle he enjoys courtesy of a good community paper that he and his cronies subverted for their own grubby ends and for personal profit. Robin secretly despises his own community, being the snob he is. He smarts because he wouldn’t have been able to cut it in the world of ‘real journalism’.
For once, however, instead of snide remarks about pyjamas and sideswipes at those addicted to nicotine, he uncharacteristically goes for the throat.
From this bar stool, crawthumping coward, who wouldn’t be fit to lace the boots of those he now denigrates, it is all a bit rich. Were it not for the fact that Mr Livingstone, who likes to draw a discreet veil of secrecy over his own identity, has to fill the few non-advert inches in Marty Millar’s rag then this bum would spend all his time in the Roddies having his ego massaged by those who haven’t the wit to realise that he only rubs shoulders with the snooker room crowd so that his ‘mighty intellect’ may shine.
Robin you wouldn’t know how to find your way to Ross Road or Ross Street they are just a little bit out of your normal orbit and your comfort zone. Stick to the witty remarks and to the company of the wine and cheese brigade where you feel so much more at home.

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 22:29

Squinter, Hold your nerve my friend,
in the morning pull your shoulders back and get out and about west belfast , especially the lower whack where your own people are from, your own family are a proud republican family who have gave more than most , at such a heavy cost, this in itself gives you a definate right to say what you did ,as you thought was right, when journalists are lambasted or prevented from doing this then newspapers and indeed us all are finished,major and the free state tried it and it didnt work,i am in no way a dissident, but i have no doubt that there would be many who would love to label me one for commending you,you have just taken ONE GIANT STEP FOR WESTBELFAST!Thank you, wont be missing the atown news for a while, that is if its still there.

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 22:37

The Sinn Fein thing gets more like Animal Farm – some are more equal than others etc – the longer it goes on. Closed siopa methinks. Could someone tell me why there are 3 Councillors Maskey in the city hall? Dare I go into the QUANGOs as well? Mr Adams has fooled too many for too long – and I’m sure Squinter you will be labelled an ‘extremist’ like anyone who dared to question the strategy of the SF leadership. Gerry may have cut his teeth in the war – but in the ‘peace’ he is a political flyweight – dare I mention the elections in the 26 last year? As for Catriona.. tell her thatthe people of “Wist Billfest” know that she is a blow-in and a pretty inept one at that .. but then again .. it’s not what you know…etc

Anonymous Says:
20 March 2008 23:44

Bap McGreevy was killed by a member of a well known criminal family. What’s the big surprise? Nothing, except that on this occasion Robin Livingstone, who has made a career out of playing to the lowest common denominator, has eventually had the ‘dutch’ courage of his convictions and has been goaded by his beer-buddies into speaking out against Sinn Fein.
Costly mistake Squinty boy. The life of ‘haircuts’, ‘picking up at the airport’ and generally skiving and lording it over your ‘yellow-pack’ journalists may well be at an end.
At least your ‘out of character’ outburst is a step up from slagging off a mother who had the audacity to smell of drink at your daughter’s confirmation and to breath on your ‘dry-cleaned suit’ I wonder how often Bap had his suit dry cleaned?
You don’t really give a shit about Bap Robin let’s be honest. Robin you really hurt that ‘hung-over mother, who recognised herself in your obnoxious piece. You really are a sanctimonious b****** and your ex-friends in SF will now hopefully bury your non-career and Mairtin’s rag with it.
We all know who will applaud you for your anti-SF diatribe:

Dear Robin, sorry squinter, welcome to the club,
Signed by your newest and dearest friends, Malachi, Suzanne, Ed, Mackers, Eilish O’H , Pól O’M, Kevin M, Conor Cruise, Eoghan H etc, etc, etc.

Squinter writes:
Dear crew thanks a bunch all is forgiven, I hope. Home at last, your long-estranged but prodigal friend.

Anonymous Says:
21 March 2008 00:26

I was at the vigil on thursday and Squinter you must have struck a raw nerve,Alex Maskey made a comment about hiding behind a pen , I agree with some of your comments Squinter , some i don,t but is Alex Maskey now telling people not to vent their anger , or write of their fear or critisize our elected politicians through letters to papers, since the end of the war against the british or since since the new phase of the struggle our community has been attacked within murders ,rapes , robbing , death riding , drugs i, m to old to fight any more , i and people like me are scared i have served my community well the only thing that i can do is pen a letter or have a pint and give off about what is going on so Alex, Gerry , Martin and all the rest i haves been loyal all my life remove the reasons and causes of our fear , lead our people and stop using vigils to complain about your critics our lives are at stake

Anonymous Says:
21 March 2008 00:31

Your brothers and your father, who all contributed mightily to this community, would be thoroughly ashamed of you. Look into your heart sqinter stop playing to the gallery.

Squinter certainly has hit a raw nerve. Cui bono?