A tale of two leaders…

Peter Robinson and Gerry Adams have one thing in common. They are both intensely private men. The exposure of their family lives in the last few weeks has caused both huge personal and political embarrassment. Considered a safe pair of hands by their respective parties, each has faced a crisis of confidence on an unprecedented scale.Robinson endured a massive flash point after Christmas as the detail of his wife’s sex life momentarily titillated the world, and horrified his party. And for a time, he seemed politically isolated.

However, an impressive display of unity of the party, along with some clever footwork saw the former Ulster Unionist Arlene Foster take his place at the dispatch box, has relieved a lot of the immediate pressure.

The First Minister’s six weeks out of the media limelight is not enough to clear himself of any wrong-doing but he has headed off the likelihood of a disastrous snap Assembly election for his party before the UK General Election in May.

But has he become an electoral liability to the DUP?

Certainly the couple’s Westminster seats now look vulnerable to a strong challenge from the Ulster Unionists. And, more rural MPs, like Gregory Campbell, have their eyes fixed permanently on a challenge from the TUV.

The Adams crisis took longer to brew. The allegations regarding his brother mistreatment of his daughter were shocking but Christmas and Robinson’s public ordeal temporarily kicked the Liam Adams’ story into touch.

Now, we’re being treated to a further drip feed of bad news. Two more women have joined Adams’ niece to voice their disquiet about the way the movement handled their rape cases.

Peter Robinson’s future comes down to the electoral calculations of his party. His team appears confident there are no further traps out there. But, unlike Sinn Fein, there is a credible successor in Nigel Dodds.

Adams future is more complicated. The fourth most popular MP elected to Westminster in 2005, until now his position in West Belfast has been above question. The party leader since 1986, few have seriously contemplated an early successor.

The bookies favour Mary Lou McDonald. The former MEP is young, good looking and southern. And she has what the party needs more than anything else just now: a clean past. Yet with her recent loss of public office she will struggle to assert the kind of authoritarian control the party has become used to.

In all likelihood, Sinn Fein will stick with the devil they know, come what may. And not simply because it wants to, but because, for now, it has no alternative.

First published in the Daily Mirror…

  • UlsterWatcher


    I’ve addressed 5 posts to you directly in the other thread. Any chance you could have a look at them?


  • Gerry Adams and Peter Robinson are both intensely private men.

    The problem is they have chosen to live their lives in a very public arena.

    It used to be that the media kept the politicians secrets (would John Kennedy have been voted in if the full truth had been known about him).

    On the whole, I think it is a good thing we are now so open and aware. It may be embarrassing at times, but at least it encourages honesty.

    To try to hide something you know the public will not like or will find offensive, is dishonest and, in the case of politicians makes them vulnerable to exposure.

  • OscarTheGrouch

    Gerry Adams and Peter Robinson are both intensely private men – or should that read “men who would like to keep things private?”.

    I’m unsure if the news breaking on the sordid past of our poilticians is a good thing for NI or not, (we all know there are lots of skeletons) but lets be honest its not much of a state if we can’t have an investigative independant press. I think I’m ready to have a meaningful press again….

  • OscarTheGrouch

    It has to be good for the north if, finally, after so many years of fear and intimidation, people feel they are now able to speak up about the suffering endured.

    I think it shows we are moving to the ‘knock down, tell it all’ politics of everywhere else.

    It has not even been biased, both of the big parties have been dragged, kicking and screaming of course, in to the light of day and ink! How refreshing is that!

  • Stewart

    Where has Brian’s latest thread gone?

  • alf

    yes why has it been put to death ? Not enough mods to police it maybe ?

  • Mick Fealty

    Boys, it’s back up. Some smart alec has been banned for his comments there.


    I’ll have a look…

  • joeCanuck

    We now have another blog where comments are not allowed.
    Has SOT been slapped with gagging orders?

  • Was it something I said????

  • Jaggers

    Was the Sunday Times interview with Peter Robinson designed to dynamite the fire that was raging for the last two weeks in respect of the goings-on in the Robinson household?

    I can understand that Iris is indisposed and Peter and Kirk are keeping their heads down, but what of all the inquiries into whether the First Minister broke the rules, whether any of the alleged payments broke laws or regulations, whether the proximity of developers to politicians might be preventing the best standards in public life.

    Might the questions being asked about the perceived free ride being given to Gerry Adams for the sake of progress in the present political impasse be equally applicable now to the Robinsons?

  • paul kielty

    Anyone who even vaguely thinks that GA is ..’being given a free ride’.., is deluded.

  • alf

    no, no, no jaggers this is completely different

  • Jaggers

    Paul, some including Mick are suggesting local media have been soft-pedalling in pursuit of GA’s moving goalposts in order not to rock things politically at this politically sensitive time – soft-pedalling/free ride, tomaHto/tomAto

  • alf

    id would say the DUP as a whole are getting a free ride at the moment, all in good time though

  • Framer

    Momentarily titillated the world?

    Iris will run and run. We still have Kirk’s story to read.

    Robinson is toast but I don’t think the party would risk another man with a politican wife who is religious no matter if frumpy.

  • joeCanuck

    Singing in the rain?

  • Jaggers

    Let’s call the whole thing off!

  • paul kielty


    This is exactly the point. So mick and others are suggesting(I think its a little stronger than that!)..’ soft peddling in pursuit of GA’s moving goalposts….’. So GA has ‘moved the goalposts’, convenient little soundbite. In reality, a lot of people believe that GA has not moved the goalposts at all. Another example of blindly assuming his guilt.

  • Jaggers

    Paul, I tend to agree with you – that’s why I qualified “free ride” with “perceived” – I don’t perceive it myself and I’m not going to bore anyone again with what I think is the impact of widespread speculation and comment on a serious judicial process.

  • joeCanuck

    Any lawyers hanging around?
    If I said that a certain person is a homosexual and he, in fact, isn’t, could he sue me for libel? Presumably not since being homosexual is not a crime and saying someone is could not be depicted as defamation in these enlightened times, could it?
    Would it be different if I said the same thing about a FP Minister?

  • “horrified his party” .. Mick

    Has Iris been given a fair deal in this charade or has she simply been scapegoated? It would be fascinating to hear her version of these dramatic events as distinct from reading a piece of paper with her name on it.

  • John O’Connell

    So you’re saying, Mick, that Sinn Fein will struggle on with a lame-duck president rather than behave like a normal political party when confronted with resingning matters scandal?

    Who are you kidding?

  • joeCanuck


    Perhaps you could enlighten us as to just exactly what those resigning matters are.

  • paul kielty

    John O’Connell,

    I think that the forthcoming british GE will show if he’s a lame duck president or not. I get the impression that people are galvanising behind him at this time. They see through all the crap.
    I hope you won’t be to disappointed if he increases his already huge personal vote?

  • UlsterWatcher

    It seems that The Tribune, Mick, Suzanne etc think Gerry Adams – a man untrained in the counselling of sexual abuse victims – has more of a case to answer than a police service which, upon being informed by the girl that she was being abused, tried to recruit her as an informer.

    Whys is everyone focusing on Adams – wasn’t he the one who told the girl to go to the police in the first place? (Probably at considerable risk to himself too).

    So, if Adams CORRECTLY told the girl to go to the police and they allegedly tried to recruit her as an informer why is Adams the focus of this story?

    It wasn’t Adams’ job to investigate sex abuse crimes – it was the police’s job, wasn’t it?

    So, again, why the focus on Adams?

  • An Phoblacht Abu

    A small correction but Gerry Adams has been leader of Sinn Fein since 1983 not 1986. Pedantic i know but im a sucker for facts

  • John O’Connell

    27 years. And nothing done, except to stop doing wrong.

  • paul kielty


  • John O’Connell

    Have they stopped doing wrong? I had not noticed that.

  • joeCanuck

    Any chance of an answer to my question?

  • paul kielty


    Not very observant are we?

  • John O’Connell


    THey’ve stopped doing wrong but not in all spheres.

  • Paul Kielty

    As observant as most I would say. Ok I will admit, there is a conspicuous lack of semtex in the air (thankfully), but there have been two murders attributed to the IRA and leading members of S/F have been accused of intimidating people.

    I will not mention any robberies etc. In the great scheme of things they are not important, people are.