Given the amount of stick Peter Robinson is getting from the MSM, I’d hate think what would have happened to him if it had been found he was shielding a brother he suspected of child abuse, and promoted him through the party ranks, and then persuaded a senior party front bencher to lie about it afterwards. If you read nothing else today, read Suzanne Breen’s excellent account of how Gerry Adams lied about his brother Liam’s role in the party in Dundalk.
And consider just how you might feel about an MP who allowed his constituents send their kids to youth projects he’d kept in the dark about his own suspicions? If it was Robinson and not Adams, and the clubs were in Tullycarnet and the lower Newtownards Road and not Clonard and Beechmount, the likelihood is he would be fried for his sins. And not simply by the media, but by his party.
Adams on the other hand…
Gerry Adams said he believed his brother was a paedophile from the moment Aine made her allegations in 1987. Yet 10 years later, he went canvassing with Liam through the streets of Dundalk in the southern general election. Photos show them laughing and smiling.
This was at a time when Sinn Fein had previously led us to believe Liam had been expelled from the party and was estranged from Gerry. Would Peter Robinson, Jim Allister or Mark Durkan get away with taking someone they believed to be a paedophile on a canvass? I think not.
It has to be safe to assume that if Adams (and his party) were lying over his brother’s role in Louth, then they are also lying over his role in various youth projects in West Belfast. Yet today’s piece by Breen is the first serious piece of journalism from the BelTel on the subject since before Christmas. Sometimes you have to take the view that what’s important is not just the top down piece process (which always favours in the interest of the various elites), but the interests of the ordinary citizen who still buy newspapers.
There is feverish speculation about a future Panorama programme and what it might or might not reveal about Robinson. If it is a genuinely new and serious revelation, he may have to walk. But if as is perfectly possible, it turns out a damp squib then people like Breen are entitled to ask just why “we are still being asked to believe not what we see but what we are told we should see“.
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