Malachi O’Doherty makes an interesting argument on the Adams child abuse case in yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph…
The single greatest expenditure of small arms fire by the Provisionals was, therefore, in a generational war against young men, many of whom were motivated by violence in the home. Many sex-offenders were shot dead by the IRA. Gerry says blithely that, even in the 1980s, he would have gone to the RUC and reported abuse to them.
That is implausible and can only have traction among those who don’t know their history. Any other republican who had reported Liam Adams to the RUC, who had done what Aine did, would have been shunted down to the border for a quiet word with Freddie Scappaticci and then shot in the head.
And any other paedophile who had raped a child in west Belfast would have been killed by the IRA, not reported to the police. What we need now is not a political explanation of the IRA campaign, but a psychosexual one.
In fact, whilst that may have been the case in west Belfast, it was not always the way the IRA dealt with child abusers elsewhere… In the west of Northern Ireland there was some degree of collaboration with social services so that their protocols rather than those of the kangaroo court were able to help the courts discern guilt or otherwise… More disturbingly there have been accusations that some parts of the IRA were deeply ambivalent towards sex abusers within their own membership…
Pedophiles thrive on secrecy. The problem with Maurice Hayes’ (now pulled) OpEd in the Indo yesterday which argued we should put political stability ahead of other more civil considerations in this case is that in pulling out of proper scrutiny we may never know the full extent of the abuse in this case. Or whether or not it even happened at all.
There have even been unattributed mutterings in the Daily Mail suggesting further speculation on the matter causing a split inside the IRA (an IRA that by and large no longer exists)…
Mr Adams is a popular MP and commands huge personal loyalty from his followers. And not without due cause. He has overseen a huge surge in the popularity of his party north of the border. But there are wider interests at stake here. It is simply not good enough for Mr Adams to say there is no evidence that his brother Liam continued with the abuse outside the family. Nor to offer to meet with the parents of the children who passed through his brother’s care in Beechmount, Clonard and Dundalk.
That is precisely the route that brought Mr Adams to this hideous pass with his niece in the first place. She now feels she was strung into a process in which Liam Adams was increasingly being pitched as the victim, rather than having the thing dealt with even in soto voce terms.
As Gerry Moriarty noted yesterday in the Irish Times no one can tell where this story will end. But it is not going to be a happy place for any one concerned.
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