“But he can’t skipper the republican ship forever.”

The Sinn Féin “significant activist meeting” today has been presaged by a series of media interviews with the still party President Gerry Adams, MP, MLA – even the Sunday Tribune got a quote. Whilst denying a North/South split within the party elsewhere, in that interview Adams acknowleged his Northern [Ireland] problem.

“I think there is an issue that I do not stand for election in the south and I have a constituency in another jurisdiction. That is why we have been building a southern leg of our national leadership.”

He also confirmed that the party’s Vice-President, the unelected Mary-Lou McDonald, is “the [party’s] leader in the south.”

But perhaps the most interesting commentary comes from the Irish Times’ Gerry Moriarty.

But despite probing about the issue, he doesn’t fully address Ferris’s concerns that in the South there is a northern turn-off factor for Sinn Féin. The Navan meeting is important [in] charting the way ahead. He’s 60 now but says he is in good health and has plenty of energy, interest and commitment to remain at the helm. But he can’t skipper the republican ship forever.

Implicitly he asks who is there at the moment who could replace the Adams-Martin McGuinness leadership. And that again is a fair point. Mary Lou McDonald hasn’t delivered and the other great hope, Pearse Doherty, has yet to make his mark. It’s just too early to talk of replacing the Northern leadership, he feels, and anyway there are no vacancies.

“trapped by circumstances that are arguably of his own making”?

Adds Adams was also on the phone at the end of Talkback today, following a Suzanne Breen piece which included a list of hypocritical positions the party has found itself in. Adams’ response to the charges – “I’m not here to address Suzanne’s agenda.”

And when David Dunseith pointed out the impossibility of Adams’ recollection of singing Monty Python’s “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” whilst in Long Kesh pre-1979 [Life of Brian wasn’t released until August 1979], Adams stuttered, then laughed at length, before saying “Well, I don’t know about that”. And then he repeated the tale again..

Update As Rusty points out, it’s not simply a case of Adams mis-remembering.

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  • cynic

    ” there is an issue that I do not stand for election in the south and I have a constituency in another jurisdiction.”

    Sorry Gerry. Nice try at redefining the narrative but that aint the issue.

    The problem you face is that the Irish electorate (and by that I mean in the South) see themselves (and you) as different. Your election performance on RTE last time around was appalling. Politics is cruel and they have labelled you as an irrelevant culchie Northerner. They also have no real interest or faith in your party’s policies (whatever they are) which again they seem to see as ill-thought through throwbacks to a different age.

    For the modern Irish voter, while they are patriotic and have a strongs sense of National Identity, they are more interested in the future than the past. Even the imagery of 1922 holds little appeal. It was almost 100 years ago and the modern whiff of cordite that still hangs around your party is as big a turn off as a bottle of counterfeit aftershave bought in Jonesbrough market and made from horse urine in a Chinese workshop.

    So Gerry, I fear the problems are a little deeper than you would suggest.The first step towards solving them may be to be honest about them so we await with interest the outcome of today’s ‘significant’ meeting.

    However, the very fact that you have already promoted it in this way suggests that the big decisions have been made and the sheep are simply being told what their future is.

    Most Irish voters though seem to have already decided that it’s mutton and not spring lamb on the menu.

  • o’cadhain

    Since the unelected Mary-Lou McDonald has no political mandate, does that not make her a “dissent Republican” now?

  • Jer

    I suspect that people who suggest T Ferris said the north was a turn off for the southern electorate are missing the subtlety of her point. Its not that the North is a turn off, its that the party has not moved away from its perception as a party solely focussed on the north.

    there is a world of difference between the two.

  • dublinsfuspporter

    Sinn Féin is a growing party in the 26 counties-at each successve like for like election since the 1980s they have either increased vote share or maintained seat numbers. An excellent performance.

    Sinn Féin have an excellent leader in Gerry Adams.

    That said when Gerry Adams decides to step down – in several years time – I believe that a person from the 26 counties should be the new leader.

    People in the 26 counties do not focus on the 6 counties (that is true) but Sinn Féin have other policies such as healthcare is a right.

  • frustrated democrat

    A sign of progress, Sinn Fein are turning into a mirror image of the unionists. Soon we will have half a dozen republican/nationalist parties splitting their vote.


    RSF/32C/Erigi – UDA/UVF
    SF New – TUV
    SF Old – DUP
    SDLP – CU’s

    Maybe that is a sign of political maturity in NI terms!

  • With its fixation on north and south, 6 and 26 county, leaderships and the like, isn’t SF becoming the party of partition? If Gerry Adams has a problem about not having a mandate in the south, shouldn’t he stand in the Donegal by-election? After all, he has a house there!

    It’s not that this would be without precedent. Previous SF leaders have stood in both jurisdictions – Devalera did it. But it seems that Gerry Adams is Devalera lite, just like Éamon except not as decisive or interested in a challenge.

    It seems to me that the more SF espouse a certain cause, the less likely that cause is to be successful….

  • fin

    I imagine Adams takes great amusement from those who are so concerned about Sinn Feins political fortunes. Amazingly the more anti-republican an individual is the the more concerned they are about Sinn Fein with Adams still leading the party.

    Interestingly although every second thread on slugger these days seems to be preoccupied with the leadership of SF, rarely do people suggest alternatives.

    Although its touching for republicans to see so much concern from the unionist parties in regards to SF, surely unionism has ample political problems of its own which need dealing with, for example, the latest dissident unionist party the TUV is collapsing after only one election, the DUP is splitting and shedding votes, the UUP have sold themselves to the tories for no real gain in votes and are now dependent on the tories winning the next election, although it seems their one and only MP won’t be involved.

    On the other hand SF has topped the poll in the Euro election in NI, and likely to be the largest party in Stormont soon. The problems in the South are not that the party is in meltdown but that its not gaining ground in the current climate.

    All in all considering how the unionist parties and the SDLP have nosedived would SF not be insane to take political advice from those quarters, apart from possibly how not to do things.

    Rock on Gerry

  • I have blogged today about the five time bombs SF is sitting on which will affect future electoral prospects.


  • cynic

    “rarely do people suggest alternatives.”

    Absolutely right. There arent any. And that is a huge weakness

  • GGN

    I have to say at this stage it is hard to take this sort of thread seriously.

    I mean any Sinn Féin supporter is going to think, ‘well if unionists and Sinn Féin’s opponents are really mad keen to see Gerry resign, then he must be doing a good job’.

    I do not really get the Adams fixation. Surely, if he was a liability to Sinn Féin then SF opponents would be ‘advising’ him to say.

    I realise this is just a blog but I think it is getting a little bizarre.

    I do not think it will be too much longer before someone ‘advises’ the party to disband – in order to strengthen the party.

  • cynic


    Some interesting points. But I disagree on the ‘tail and dog’ issue.

    For the forseeable future,despite all the SF posturing, the ‘failed statelet’ of Norn Iron is the dog and, after the last Southern election results, the tail looks more docked than ever. Perhaps they should call in the USPCA?

    Party strategists wishing it weren’t so wont make any difference until they address the fundamental policy and leadership issues ….. but here’s the rub. If they do, if they do become a Southern led party with a real focus in the Republic, insular as we are to the core, will Northern Nationalists vote for them?

    All politics is local and perhaps the greatest impact of the PIRA campaign has actually been to drive both parts of the island further apart in all sorts of ways.

    The Shinners may yet end up hung on a hook of their own (well, to be fair, PIRA’s ) making

  • cynic


    For me its simple. I want the politics to succeed and to be stable.

    I have said time and time again I dont think we will cement that until the current generation of political leaders go. Not just Gerry but a number of others. I actually think that Adams has done a great job in moving PIRA into the end game. But the endgame for politics isnt over yet and we need to take that to the next stage.

    SF and the DUPs love the sort of zero sum game you suggest – if we win they must lose. We can however get to a stage of a win-win game if we try hard enough.

  • Leaving aside my own political prejudices, I feel cynic has a point, Gerry would not only be doing his party a favor were he to step down, but more importantly himself.

    He has been at the forefront of republican politics his entire adult life, he owes it to himself to relax and try other avenues. I understand both his fears and the reasons why he feels he must keep at it, but in time people will forgive him his mistakes and maybe some of those who despise him now just might come to like, if not admire him.

    I remember a very pertinent quote by Andy Tyrie, a former head of the UDA,”there is no redundancy pay in my job,” and I feel Adams feels a bit like that about his job.

    As to SF without Adams, he will quickly be replaced and life will go on much as it does today, only it will be someone else taking the flack.

    Thatcher and Blair both thought they were indispensable and life proved them wrong, politicians are like London buses, there is always another one coming along. In politics no one is irreplaceable and there are no exceptions to this rule.(thankfully)

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Why can’t Ireland have its own Monarchy once again?

  • 26 + 6 = 1

    [i]Why can’t Ireland have its own Monarchy once again? [/i]

    That’s a very good question. I’d nominate you as court jester.

  • DC

    Democracy, monarchy or whatever, it’s all about the Money.

  • cynic

    “Why can’t Ireland have its own Monarchy once again?”

    I am sure that Liz could fit it in between India and Jamaica if you asked nicely. But please dont let it be a Dependency – we cant afford it

  • I have a constituency in another jurisdiction.

    So he acknowledges it’s a different country after all

  • Pete Baker


    You need to read the post again.

    “I do not really get the Adams fixation.”

    One of the strengths of blogging is the ability to maintain a sustained focus on any particular topic over time. In the process, re-examining and scrutinising the detail of what is said and done in an effort to get at what is actually happening.

    But don’t mistake that process for “a fixation” with any particular topic.

    It’s simply an effective application of blogging.

    As for fin’s “anti-republican” line.

    That’s so 18th Century.

  • percy

    seeing as we’re all star-gazing I thought I’d add finbar’s thoughts:

    The chart of the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams shows very good people skills with five planets in the Harmonizing segment and his philosophy, as indicated by the planet Saturn, is in the same segment. However, as a statesman he continually finds himself in a polarized circumstance and this is indicated by the planet Jupiter.


  • give it up

    When is Peter Robinson going?

  • Before Sinn Fein’s meeting this morning Gerry Adams sought to lambast dissidents. During the article in The Times he said;

    “But I have no time at all for those who are just going to put young guys in prison for no good reason, or put people in graves for no good reason.”

    Could this latter statement in time become as infamous as his; ‘they haven’t gone away you know!’ outburst several years ago? This may indeed be a costly choice of words given the growing momentum involving Mr Adam’s et al strategic decision making during the 1981 Hunger Strike. Sinn Fein are well aware that the ‘five demands’ were the fulcrum of their parties meteoric rise to political stardom (SDLP replacement), was built upon the allegation of ’ Maggie Thatcher Wanted for Murder ’ or will Sinn Fein’s watershed be re-written as yet another Northern Ireland stalemate?

  • give it up

    when is Peter Robinson stepping down?

  • Pancho’s Horse

    If you don’t support Sinn Féin and you don’t vote Sinn Féin, then what the f**k business is it of yours whether Gerry Adams stays or goes? Get your own house/party in order – those of you who have the guts to align themselves with a party and not forever be herlers on the ditch.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Sorry “yourselves” and “hurlers” in case some pedant gets confused.

  • percy

    that’s the thing about all this “futuring”, we’re bordering on the mystic-meg, or the runes, or the tarot cards
    I’m just waiting for someone to get a media interview revealing that they’ve seen Adams’ future in their tea-leaves. worth a few bob eh!
    Then we can finally draw a line under this and get on with our own lives.

  • give it up

    When is Peter Robinson retiring?

  • cynic

    ” when is Peter Robinson stepping down?”

    the sooner the better so far as I am concerend

  • give it up

    when is Empey going to stop pretending he is a unionist leader?When is The Cameron going to do the same?

  • cynic

    Give it Up

    By the way is this a new variant of whataboutery? If oursuns goes so must yoursuns?

    Anyway, thanks for your interesting contribution to the discussion

  • give it up

    Very welcome Cynic,

    One must do ones best to adjust to the level of blogging.

    When is Trimble going to realize that he cannot backtrack on the Belfast agreement?

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Con O’Jonnell for President Of Sinn Féin!!!

  • Guest

    ““But he can’t skipper the republican ship forever.””

    Newsflash-people die.

  • Pete Baker

    Pancho’s Horse

    “If you don’t support Sinn Féin and you don’t vote Sinn Féin, then what the f**k business is it of yours whether Gerry Adams stays or goes?”

    Well, some would have us believe that Gerry must stay in place otherwise the Peace Process™ itself is in jeopardy.

  • Guest

    Who Pete, would have you believe this?and where is the logic in the argument?

  • Newsflash-people die.

    A point not unfamiliar to the republicans, given they kill so many

  • Guest

    Very good.I know it will not pass through the mind of anyone who has a say in who is the leader of sinn fein.Away with your sulking.

  • Pete Baker


    If you’re asking whether I believe such a view-point, then I’d have to say no.

    But it’s no more ludricrous than the suggestion that no-one but those involved in Sinn Féin should have any business discussing whether Gerry stays as party president [for life?].

  • Dixie

    I see Gerry and Marty met with Northern Ireland Friends of Israel… http://nifriendsofisrael.wordpress.com/

    Under the heading Why Boycotting Israel is wrong in principle and wrong in practice…We have a photo of Gerry and Tom Hartley shaking hands with the ambassador of Israel, HE Ron Prosor…


    Ogra should consider boycotting Sinn Fein after this meeting.

  • Guest

    Indeed Pete,
    I am not asking if you believe in any such point of view.
    Free speech is,I believe,the popular term.

    Simply, I found interesting the idea that Sinn fein leadership change equals end of peace process as a pretext to the change itself.Serious fault-lines therein.

    As for the President for life concept.It is a northern trait and party to the artificial nature of NI as agreed in the Belfast agreement.Do not understand how anybody might find it bizarre.Not saying that you do.

  • trixie

    [i]some would have us believe that Gerry must stay in place otherwise the Peace Process™ itself is in jeopardy. [/i]


  • Guest

    And more,

    How the hell does the peace process end now that we are all so resolved to not let acts of violence change our foci.

  • borderline

    All this sh*te was inevitible once the bullets stopped flying.

    We know what the IRA was about – it was a nationalist “army” fighting the Brits and the armed unionists.

    And we know what Sinn Fein was – the political wing of the IRA.

    So now the IRA has gone away (yes they have!), what is SF?

    “IT’S A REPUBLICAN PARY!!” I hear you scream.

    Ahhh, but what is that?

    A socialist party? A nationalist party? A liberal party? A secular party? An urban party? A green party?

    The music has stopped boys and girls.
    And all the seats are occupied.

    As for republicanism – look it up in the dictionary. And gulp………

  • give it up


    I think they call it Inertia.Those watching find it harder to understand the end of force are further from it than those in the moving body.Pete will correct me from a scientific point of “I’m looking” but that is the basis of the drug like need for a definition that spools from unionists when anything gets uncertain.Politically of course.They are great chess players.

  • marty f

    can I ask panchos horse if he is being rid by more than one rider,

  • YelloSmurf

    Give it up, give it up!

  • give it up

    Yes Yellosmurf.If only you told me in advance we could have saved ourselves the bother.

  • Pancho’s Horse

    marty f, this horse is a stallion. And Pete Baker, do you and your running dogs take such an avid interest in – say – the regular movement of the RC clergy from parish or who was recently elected head of the Buffs or do yous fancifully see a micro chink in the armour of the largest party in this sorry statelet?

  • Pete Baker

    Pancho’s Horse

    Me and my running dogs?!

    *looks around*


    Just me.

    Sitting here in my pyjamas.


  • Pancho’s Horse

    Pete, you silly boy! They don’t have to be in the room with you – just in the same ideological cul-de-sac.

  • Pete Baker

    Yeah, Pancho’s Horse.

    I’m the one in an ideological cul-de-sac.

    And back to the topic..

  • Pancho’s Horse

    I knew you’d see sense sooner or later. Just John o’ God to convince now. And on topic – Gerry will be there ’til he leaves.

  • guest

    Pete Baker,

    We are all in an idealogical cul-de-sac.Rats in the bottom of the bag.Its called the Belfast agreement, and it means we are all in a weird stasis where we don’t have a country and you don’t have a country.how long can we put up with it?and where do we need to go?
    It is of course the unionist idealogy that has been reversed and the Republican idealogy that been forwarded.That is neither here nor there in the real game.Republicans have parked those issues in accepting the principal of consent.Do unionists need to park there issues.NO.should unionists park certain issues.A voir.

  • guest

    And by the way,
    Gerry Adams is neither here nor there in the real game.He knows it.And finds all this fuss quite amusing.

  • Pete Baker

    Sure, guest.

    Gerry’s always looking on the bright side of life.

    Even when he wasn’t.

  • guest

    sure Pete,

    Is that the only crumb you’ve got?

    No response to the questions I’ve posed?
    No desire to discuss the real game?
    We have all the non-time that the Belfast agreement has given us but yours is the consent.

  • guest

    “Well, some would have us believe that Gerry must stay in place otherwise the Peace Process™ itself is in jeopardy.”-Pete Baker.

    Once again, who?,and where is the logic therein?

  • Pancho’s Horse

    Squeeze him too hard, guest, and he sulks. Or else wakens John O’ God to draw attention away from the paucity of his arguments. Or else ‘moderates’ you.

  • Pete Baker

    Pancho’s Horse

    And we were getting on so well.

    I thought ‘guest’ would like the final word.

    And since that particular avenue of discussion is a cul-de-sac – as I pointed out last night..

  • guest

    “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends”-Martin Luther King.

    Good man Pete.

  • guest

    “Well, some would have us believe that Gerry must stay in place otherwise the Peace Process™ itself is in jeopardy.”-Pete Baker.

    Once again, who?,and where is the logic therein?

  • Pete Baker


    I’ve already pointed out that I think that the logic of such an argument is fundamentally flawed.

    But here’s one example, albeit from an unreliable source.

    Adams needs to stay for the future of Sinn Fein and the peace process. Right now there is a determined challenge from a hardline republican group to the peace process. Adams is needed, as always, to steady the grassroots and show the way forward.

  • guest

    Thank you Pete,

    It is indeed fundamentally flawed and the author himself draws on that reality.The idea that the end of Adams is the end of the peace process is the equivalant to the idea that he never signed the Belfast agreement.In many ways, the non-time orientation of said agreement makes Adams a target in a media driven world where we demand and demand what our leaders are doing.We have overseen the change within unionism with relative ease and time was always going to forward the end of those who signed that agreement from the other side.but what is the point ?That there is a dissident element and therefore Adams should stay to steady the Republican ship.Nonsense.He has said it and I’ll say it again;we are all in this together and the Belfast Agreement has created the space and non-time that we require to let unionists reflect.If anything needs to be now said it is that a change in Sinn fein leadership needs to be forced upon Republicans by unionists in party to their descent to reality.Not a problem and you Mr.Baker are doing a good job in making all this a “known” .

  • Pete Baker

    He’s said a lot of things, guest.

    Not all of them entirely truthful..

  • guest

    such as?

  • guest

    Singing away.I thought we were discussing what is true?or do we need to go through the punts,trimble/cameron,empey,durkan ‘s history?