“The worst thing this party could do would be to circle the wagons..”

Brian’s comments notwithstanding, the appropriate response to the latest leg of the Gerry Adams World Tour is one of laughter [Of our children? – Ed] The alternative is to despair. Adams’ newly professed open-mindedness betrays the absence of any viable strategy towards achieving his aspirations, whilst calling on action from the British and Irish governments indicates a dependency on the kind of top-down Process™ which may have delivered Sinn Féin’s support for the police, along with the DUP’s renewed participation in the Northern Ireland administration, but it left the “face of bigotry, sectarianism and intolerance” on our streets. In his Guardian slot Adams declares

The single most important issue facing the people of Ireland and Britain is the achievement of Irish unity and the construction of a new relationship between Ireland and Britain based on equality. Economic crises, however severe, will come and go. Governments will come and go, but for more centuries than any of us care to contemplate Britain’s involvement in Ireland has been the source of conflict; partition, discord and division; and great hurt between the people of these islands.

Which is easy for the International Representative for west Belfast to say. And no doubt it represents a Sinn Féin article of faith. But, in comparison, governments have more immediate concerns, as do Irish farmers.. Indeed, the Northern Ireland administration also has the economy as the priority in its Programme for Government. Do the members of Sinn Féin within that administration?

None of which is to suggest that there isn’t a way forward. Nor that there isn’t a priority.

The way forward lies not in political grandstanding, or world tours, but in the more delicate, humdrum even, process of civilisation here.

Bertie Ahern seemed to get that. And Brian Cowen appears to also. Why, apparently, don’t some of our local politicians? Is it simply an aversion to risking their traditionally accrued political capital?

The other point to note regarding Adams’ latest speech is how it fits, or doesn’t fit, into the conversation Sinn Féin’s Toiréasa Ferris professed to want. Are we expected to endure a continuation of a policy of pretence..

Sooner or later political reality may intervene – what Adams forgot to say was that political parties come and go, as do politicians. And then what?