Two pieces worthy of note sufficient to draw me out of holiday purdah… First Nick Cohen in the Observer, erm, observes that a nation that fell into a frenzy over a priest shaking a hand with a convicted rapist, is quick to see the victim in Gerry Adams:
As the scandal threatened Adams’s career last week, many in Ireland wanted to see him as a victim as well. To cite a typical instance, when Eamon Keane asked a furious Sinn Fein spokeswoman a few polite questions on his show on Newstalk radio, the listeners exploded. They praised Adams’s “courage” and denounced the mean “agenda” of his critics. “Shut your gob,” cried one. “Gerry Adams is a good man. This is a family matter and should be dealt with inside the family.”
Keeping child abuse private has all but destroyed Irish Catholicism, which also uses the language of victimhood and persecution complexes to deflect legitimate questions.
In the Sindo, Eoghan Harris observes that this cultural omerta has not served the Irish people well in the past:
Daniel Corkery, the influential ideologue of Irish nationalist identity, believed that Irish identity was composed of a trinity of passions: land, religion and nationality. My belief is the exact opposite. I believe that Irish identity is based on a distortion of these three passions.
Land, and the lust for land, has morphed into our passion for property speculation. Religion has regressed to a repulsive repressive sexuality in the Roman Catholic Church. Nationality has come to mean a nasty nationalism which had no time for northern Protestants.
Secrecy is the shared sin of Corkery’s unholy trinity. (Significantly, Hamlet suggests an oath of secrecy to his men.) Land wars were conducted by secret societies — as secretive as the cabals who shared the spoils of property speculation. Religion, in the form of Irish Catholicism, ruled with a culture of secrecy. Nationalism, in the form of the IRA, demands secrecy on pain of death.
And Harris says of Adams the man:
The Adams voyage is around the sins of all our fathers. And it will take truth to light us home. Like Albert Speer, Adams is in denial about some of the darker deeds done on his watch. But unlike Speer — who went to his grave lying to himself — Gerry Adams can still act with good authority.
As a start he should stop talking about how his father’s abuse “besmirched” the tricolour. Because in making peace Adams implicitly rejected his father’s fanatic politics. This suggests that Adams found his father out, not just on the personal level, but on the political level too. Time he took the final step and admitted that the armed struggle “besmirched” the tricolour as much as abuse.
For his sake, and ours, Gerry Adams needs to go to journey’s end. He should call Tommie Gorman back and tell his true story. The story of a Hamlet who listened for 30 years to the gruesome ghosts of Irish nationalism, but finally found the guts to tell them to go away.