How secrecy bound Ireland to an unconcious repetition of its bloodied past…

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.

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  • “found the guts to tell them to go away”

    Did he? It was my understanding from reading Moloney’s “A Secret History of the IRA” that Adams was convinced that the ‘Brits out’ strategy – concocted by the Redemptorists and others – would be more effective than the ‘armalite and the ballot box’ one.

    It’s ironical that some of those who could vote for the political wing of the Provisional Republican Movement with its heinous background should get so agitated by the shortcomings of the Catholic hierarchy. I recall Bishop Hegarty being ‘door-stepped’ on a TV programme about child abuse the very same week that Martin McGuinness was being sanitised in a ‘tea and buns’ documentary. It’s a funny old world.

  • John O’Connell

    The true story of the Troubles might be available now to all and sundry. It is the story of how the victims overreacted to unionist violence by authorising a cold and callous quasi-war where most of the subsequent victims were innocent.

    It was justified on the basis that they were doing it to us, an eye for an eye. It was an egomaniac’s charter where the only violence the victims saw was the violence of those who used it on them. They were not aware that their own violence was worse because they were only aware of the abuse that they had suffered at the hands of their families and nothing could be worse than that.

    But something has to be said about the emasculating of sections of the Nationalist populations by the unionists which gave rise to the hardening of their hearts. The hardman mentality that destroyed men like Gerry Adams senior must derive from a sense of being emasculated and that derives from the British presence and unionist violence.

    The unionists seem to be jumping for joy at these revelations but they say much more about them than they do about Gerry Adams in the final analysis. A political therapist is going to find them wanting too.

    THis is a violent society and if the truth is finally told we will see significant numbers of politicians and terrorists with abusive fathers and mothers.

  • John O’Connell

    But the secret excuse of the republican movement is finished. There was no justification for the IRA other than in the brutality of their own families. The same applies to Sinn Fein. There is no justification for Sinn Fein’s political macho posturing and their lack of empathy other than in the unionists’ lack of empathy.

    But it just goes to show you that the only match for the unionists’ violence in the end were the abused boys and girls of Sinn Fein.

    But our society doesn’t need a match for unionists’ lack of empathy. It needs the spread of a gospel of empathy that embraces all of society and tries to resolve problems faced each day by all our people.

    Sinn Fein have now made themselves redundant to the process of making things better. They’ll soon be waking up to a public that doesn’t need them any more, having used the hardmen, abused by their fathers, for the duration of the Troubles.

    Those who voted Sinn Fein can thank themselves for Gerry Adams and for the likelihood that the Stormont experiment is over, to be replaced by a much riskier scenario.

  • As the newspaper feature writers indulge themselves in churning out psycho-babble which suits their ideology little consideration is being given to the actual victim who is now being used by all sides in a propaganda war with the dreadful spectre that the impact of this war may well assist Liam Adams in avoiding answering the shocking charges being laid against him.

    The understandable desire to damage Gerry Adams and SF should surely be left until the legal process has run its course.

  • Rory Carr

    In prisons and pubs throughout these islands criminal elements, abusive violent men and wife beaters attempt to sanitise their own actions and confer social respectability upon themselves at any chance they have to beat up (or brag about having beaten up or of their desire to beat up) other criminals whom they refer to as ‘nonces’, that is individuals they deem guilty of sexual offences whether convicted or not. By pointing to the blackness of that particular kettle they hope to make their own pot seem to gleam in comparison. The more violent the attack upon the ‘nonce’ they believe the more their own respectability will shine.

    We have witnessed them surely in the pub at least, if not in prison, their lips trembling in passion, “I fuckin’ love kids I do. I’ll fuckin’ do that nonce…” and then a graphic, foam-flecked description of what they will do to prove their love for the ‘little kiddies’ while their own children wait in dread for the returning clump of their drunken father’s footsteps.

    When I read the cheap musings of these journalists from the school of Phil Space and Glenda Slagg I can’t help but compare them to these self-serving nonce-bashing braggarts and I blush with shame on their behalf that men who are fortunate enough to be paid for what they write can find themselves eventually writing for pay and worse, being unable to distinguish.

  • Scaramoosh

    A trinity of passions…more like drink. money and murder, as a means to forgetting where we all came from.

    And the insidious practice of those that rise to the top, whether in business or politics, to embrace the national proclivity towards the cabal and secrecy.

    Sexual molestation (depending on who is linked to it) and long lingering deaths from cancer, sell newspapers. Thus is the modern day Irish condition..oh, and reading blogs, and passing off somebody else viewpoints as your own.

  • Paddy

    Rory Carr: You are behind the times. Sex offenders now have their own prisons as there are so many of them. The days of giving them a hiding are gone. Not that anyone would attack a masde or connected man. Whatever about journalist hacks, Gerry Adams is tainted. In his case, it is best not to quip about shooting mesengers.

  • Only Asking

    The pieces are written in a very self congratulatory way. ‘Well there you are now, didn’t I tell ya he was like this and now we can see him in all his glory’, attitude. But there is nothing new or informative in them. Self congratulatory hand wringing exercises, unlike Breen and Dudley Edwards who’ve scaled him with penmanship, even if they do have political axes to grind, they’re much more of a satisfying read that these diatribes.

  • percy

    Its very simple:
    2 spirits dominated ireland 4 centuries
    Brits and Vatican
    Get em out !
    simple 🙂

  • Alias

    Percy, if Vatican ‘domination’ leads to the most hedonistic society with sexual promiscuity, cociane use and worship of money being the highest in Europe, then I would have thought that you were all for it? 😉

    As for Brits Out, sorry… but the GFA consolidate British nationality granting it parity of esteem with Irish nationalism and conflating British nationality with British sovereignty and a legitimate and permanent role for the British state, so if that was your aim in backing the Shinners then you backed the wrong horse.

  • As a nationalist, I’ve very little time for SF but the ongoing attacks on Gerry Adams reek to the heavens of political opportunism masquerading as concern for the victim. As Moderate Unionist rightly pointed out, those salivating to nail SF to the cross should be extra careful that their rantings do not give the alleged perpetrator a get-out-of-jail card. I know it’s the season for giving but try not to be so generous.

    While I’m on topic, conflating the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic church/SF with justification for attacking the legitimate cause of Irish nationalism is not only lazy journalism but also downright laughable. No matter how much the media/some unionists may like to hype it, the perverts and their facilitators in the church are a tiny minority (although, sadly, their victims are many). The bottom line is, to exploit the trauma of victims to score cheap political points is beyond reprehensible.

    N. Exile (formerly Exile1)

  • xuup

    Rory, perhaps you should ‘blush with shame’ a little more, for your own shortcomings, by editing your contribution as follows –

    ‘……abusive violent men[/women] and wife[/husband] beaters’

    ‘…..while their own children wait in dread for the returning clump of their drunken father’s[/mother’s] footsteps.’

    Or, perhaps you are content that violent abusive women continue to inflict horrendous injury on children and men, by ‘cheap musings’ which reinforce the failure of our society to face up to the reality of female abusers.

  • Rory Carr

    Perhaps you are right and perhaps I should but I am afraid that one of my major shortcomings is a distinct lack of misoginy. I am happy to see that you more than make up for my lack.

  • The journalists seem to be over-complicating Gerry Adams both in terms of him as an individual and his political persona. Republican practice is very much about listening to ghosts of their past but I’m afraid the similarity with Hamlet really ends there.

    Gerry Adams the politician is much simpler to sum up than the journalists have suggested. He is a conviction politician and in that respect, he is consistent. His holy grail is and always has been a united Ireland. Christian morality has never been a compass for directing his life, only for reading the lives of others. He will do whatever he thinks is necessary to achieve a united Ireland, even at the expense of the welfare of members of his extended family. I don’t have any doubt, either, that he genuinely believes that the peace process will deliver a united Ireland resulting from demographic change.

    So what if he is a liar? When he lies, he puts his political objectives first. Had he understood more about child abuse much earlier, he may well have done things differently if he could turn the clock back but his first priority would still be Sinn Fein.

    As for exposing Adams as a liar, some commenters are suggesting that increased media exposure will play into the hands of Sinn Fein enabling them to portray Adams as some kind of persecuted victim of the political media.

    I disagree strongly. This scandal has almost certainly got a long way to go. The natural initial reaction of most republicans will be to rally around Adams. They will look for the good bits for him in this story and discard the bad bits. That is normal voter prejudice. In due course, the resilience of that support will weaken with the media battering. Every kind of voter support base has a toleration threshold. If the media diet of news is long and sustained, that support base will eventually crumble.

  • padraig

    There’s a fantastical Walt Disneyish quality in many of the posts here. Unionists often love to feed a fantasy that someday, somehow Sinn Fein and Republicanism generally will explode in a plume of greasy black smoke.

    But I am afraid Gerry Adams et al will not so explode despite the present scandal. nor shall the Catholic Church sink despite similiar scandals, no more than Unionism will explode because one of their leaders regularly tanks his Mr.s, senior Unionist leaders were involved in child abuse at Kincora, ect.

    Its the drooling, hand rubbing ecstasy of many of these post that gets me. Like jackles of hyenas tearing at a dead corpse or like a flock of sordid old carrion picking vultures.

  • Padraig, your choice of ‘corpse’ is hardly appropriate when referring to the leaders of the Provisional Republican Movement.

  • Pigeon Toes

    Were the “Troubles” not also child abuse?

    Who stood by and allowed that to happen?

  • Peter Fyfe

    N. Exile and moderate unionist

    Thought both your posts were excellent and rational. The questions will have to be asked of adams when the legal process is complete. If he knew of this and still worked with his brother on Sinn Fein work, he has to step down from public office. The protection of a child abuser is a despicable act and can not be justified, whether he suffered as a child or not.


    Maybe you are some twisted shinner who can never see any fault. Are you happy that Gerry Adams, as Sinn Fein leader, canvassed with a man he thought had raped his own child? Not a unionist here, so don’t try that comeback.

  • Brian MacAodh

    How the hell does someone rape their own child?

    I am unable to comprehend