“Adams the documentary”: limitations of contestable truth…

On Facebook, there’s been a lot of comment on Trevor Birney’s documentary on Gerry Adams, which aired on BBC Northern Ireland earlier this week. I’m not sure I agree with the narrative thrust of the programme (that Gerry is a man who has become reconciled with his own past). And it revealed few genuinely fresh insights into a man who may familiar to many of us, but few really know.

Some personal detail was new to me. The idiosyncratic humour, the guerilla tree planting, and that bizarre episode over the hugging of trees with Tony Blair. But the passage most worthy of note came from Jonathan Powell, a man who had both Adams and McGuinness at his country house wedding within months of leaving Downing Street in the summer of 2007:

“Do I know Gerry adams, properly? No, I don’t think I do. I think [with] anyone who has lived a clandestine life for a long period of time – and I have seen this in other parts of the world – you adopt certain characteristics that other people can never break through. You have to [do it] for survival”.

A few years ago, back in Sinn Fein’s annus horribilis of 2005, I blogged about the irresistibility of fact in story telling. When it comes to Adams as a subject, everything,  it seems, is relative and contestable. For instance, Adams adopts ‘positions’ on his past, rather than revealing it.

This is deeply problematic for any journalist who must work towards something approximating the truth. And regarding Adams, the clandestine leader of a supremely clandestine army, there are too simply few incontrovertible facts to be sure of anything reported about the man.

And yet the closing sequences contain one small but interesting and incontrovertible fact. It’s an old black and white photograph that I’ve seen dozens of times, of a young Gerry Adams dressed in the distinguishing black beret of the IRA: the organisation which he aggressively contends to any serious journalistic inquiry that he was never a member of.

The ‘forms of words’ he carefully choses to evade the precise biographical ‘facts’ of his own past are a great deal less convincing than the liminal traces he leaves behind him, however indistinct they may appear…

  • Neil

    Documentaries tend to be more aggressive, and they can afford to be. This was more of an evening with… where Adams is actually participating. If it were a documentary they would extrapolate whatever information they could with a mixture of witness statements, known fact and stock interviews from years gone by. And in that case they can participate in a hatchet job or they can make their subject look like the second coming of Jesus Christ.

    In this program, you do get to find out one ‘truth’ and that is what Gerry wants you to know of him and how he sees himself or at least wants others to see him. But over and above that he’s produced a show, himself and his cheeky humour where he can try to appeal to people on one of his strengths IMO, which is his excellent skills in front of the camera.

    Personally the highlight of the show was where he was talking about him negotiating from a secular point of view, negotiating ‘for the party. They were negotiating for God.’ Found that amusing. Also as you say, his tree hugging episodes. Very dubious.

  • Bradán Feasa

    First of all, wearing a beret is at best a tenuous piece of evidence. Many republicans are asked to be part of colour parties at funerals and parades who are clearly not members of the IRA. They would often have to wear a beret as part of the colour party uniform.

    To me the really interesting things about this post and the many others from people who are anti Adams is the obsessive nature and also extremely narrow academic focus you people take when discussing Adams. You view his whole life through one very small chink. How can you see the big picture?

    The great thing about this programme is that it brought to light how well respected Adams is internationally for the work he has done. This is a point that is never discussed by any of the sometimes rabidly anti Adams people on sites such as this.

    When Adams says he was not in the IRA it means either of two things. 1, that he was not in the IRA or 2, he was, but like most people in illegal organisations he had to say he wasn’t. What’s the big deal? Will you people be still nerd like discussing this one aspect of his like in 25 years?

  • Two words…..

    Barbara Streisand?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Strange thing.
    Ive never written to Mr Fealty asking him to post a thread I had written. And last night I wrote a little something on the “Adams” documentary and now I dont have to use it cos Mr Fealty has stolen my thunder so to speak.
    I did find it a little odd that a few months ago, so many Sluggerites rushed to their keyboard to comment on the “Adams and Jesus” Channel 4 documentary but had let the BBCNI documentary pass.
    I suppose it was easy to rubbish the pretentious nature of the Channel 4 programme as it was almost a C4 cliché along the lines of “Me And My Spoon” in Private Eye.
    Yet I watched the programme earlier this week thinking it would be immediately seized upon by Mr Adams many critics…..yet curiously it wasnt.
    Of course their thunder was also stolen by his overwhelming victory in West Belfast a few weeks ago.
    But all the criticisms of Adams were in the programme…..even within a sentence “Jean McConville, Bloody Friday and La Mon”.
    And I think Adams non-answered THAT question “were you now or have you ever been….” a little more nuanced than usual.
    More obviously tongue in cheek, he responded that he had a “stock answer” a curious diversion from “no”. Personally I dont have any trouble with the “no” as it enhances rather than subverts the known historical record.
    An IRA man is I understand obliged to answer “No”. So this answer might well be interpreted differently by IRA men and journalists and the general public.
    “The serious journalistic inquiry” is not something Adams takes as seriously as journalists.
    As Ive said before there is absolutely no evidence of his membership or even involvement that would have discouraged a single voter in West Belfast from voting for him. Painful though that is to the moral majority.
    Certainly new stuff in the programme….Adams grows things from acorns for people who appreciate the gift of a tree. Er yes. Well I will never complain about getting a pair of socks at Christmas again. Now I know…there ARE worse presents.
    But most significantly the programme revealed that Gerry Adams is a 60 year old grandfather. The pink girly childs bike in Adams back yard was perhaps the image that people watching the programme would remember more than the old black beret pic or even the acorns. And for once it wasnt put there by SF-IRAs Press Office.
    Any self respecting grandfather knows that Adams has tripped over that pink bike more than once. Eventually as Dr Phil said on Oprahs programme “we all outlive our fears”.
    Gerry Adams resonated as a man who looks as if he has outlived his fears.
    Of course the critics who rushed to ridicule “Jesus and Gerry” need to be careful with this documentary. “Lord” Trimble Nobel laureate (with qualification) lauded Gerry and Martin.
    And of course the Palestinians and Nelson Mandela cant be second guessed by Whiggist liberals.
    Nancy Soderberg and Barbara Streisand. And Tony BLiar > And Jonothan Powell (well kinda) and Bill Clinton.
    The Whigs must have been getting more dis-spirited by the minute.
    And of course this was a BBC Journalist effort (Trevor Birney and Deirdre Devlin) not some half assed C4 “feature”.
    The very first words heard in the programme on the music “Ive made some mistakes in my life” set the tone.
    This was soft focus BBC. This was the BBC recognising the new reality.
    Of course Alan McBride was perhaps the most influential person in the broadcast. Balance might have been served by the inclusion of a less forgiving victim.
    But difficult for Adams critics to say too much bad stuff about him without implicitly attacking Mr McBride who is untouchable.
    Likewise Fr Alex Reid, Rev Ken Newell and Rev Harold Good spoke well of Adams.
    They seemed to know the man better than his critics.
    More importantly they probably know Jesus better than Mr Adams critics.
    Not a good week for Admas watchers with an agenda.

  • Christina Martin

    Is it only me who thinks he’s getting less and less physically distinguishable from Nelson McCausland? I always have to look twice now.

  • DC

    Gerry Adams – the first and last IRA non-member.

    He’s very plausible but not very factual.


  • JimRoche

    I didn’t see the program but for me the important question about Adams and Sinn Fein (who I vote for) is where they go from here and not what hat Adams wore in the past.

    Clearly the greatest need they have is to become a serious player in the south where people are crying out for an alternative but not seeing Sinn Fein as it.

    Traditional FF voters are moving to Labour and SF should be contesting those votes. They are usually around 8-10% in the polls. Bring that to a solid 15 should not be beyond them for the next election.

    I would like to know who their candidate for Taoiseah is and what they would actually want to do in government and with whom.

  • Christo

    “Not a good week for Admas watchers with an agenda.”

    One man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist. The BBC’s vaseline smeared soft focus lens documentary does not change this fact.

  • Neil

    Quite right, nor does it change the fact that those Adams haters out there don’t provide Gerry with his mandate so they can chatter away til the cows come home for all the odds it makes. His performance in West Belfast is the stuff of dreams for politicians in democracies the world over, possibly the safest seat on Earth. So the opinions of the irrelevant will cost him no sleep.

  • DC

    And you are right who are we to break up the bonds of sentimentalities and personality in West Belfast in some sort of vain quest for more modern and effective policies by SF. Ones that alter lives in a positive way (eg through creating new jobs, having a more modern interpretation on life rather than Clan Adams stuff).

  • Cynic

    Why oh why does this come to mind

    Oh darling why’d you talk so fast
    Another evening just flew past tonight
    And now the daybreak’s coming in
    And I can’t win and it ain’t right

    You tell me all you’ve done and seen
    And all the places you have been without me
    Well I don’t really want to know
    But I’ll stay quiet and then I’ll go
    And you won’t have no cause to think about me

    There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis
    Just like you swore to me that you’d be true
    There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis
    But he’s a liar and I’m not sure about you

    Oh darling you’re so popular
    You were the best thing new in Hicksville …
    With your mohair suits and foreign shoes
    News is you changed your Pick-up for a Seville

    And now I’m lying here alone
    ‘Cause you’re out there on the phone
    To some star in New York
    I can hear you laughing now and
    I can’t help feeling that somehow
    You don’t mean anything you say at all

    There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis
    Just like you swore to me that you’d be true
    There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis
    But he’s a liar and I’m not sure about you

    There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis
    Just like you swore to me that you’d be true
    There’s a guy works down the chip shop swears he’s Elvis
    But he’s a liar and I’m not sure about you
    I said he’s a liar and I’m not sure about you
    I said he’s a liar and I’m not sure about you
    He’s a liar and I’m not sure about you

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s no big deal Bradan, unless you are journalist trying to report what’s true. In Gerry’s case that’s becoming a hopeless (not to mention thankless) task.

  • Mick Fealty

    Are you speaking in a personal capacity or as a member of the commITtee? 😉 It’s been getting spanked on Facebook, but I didn’t blog or comment directly on the content because I’d missed the broadcast. And I wanted to see it before inviting detailed comment on a thread on Slugger. Simples.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I dont know what the CommITie is and your winkiness is lost on me. But I presume some kinda IT reference to Information Technology.
    So I suppose Im posting in a personal capacity.
    While I fully undrstand your reasoning …you wanted to actually see the programme before commenting, it doesnt explain the absence of threads from other seasoned Adams watchers.
    Let me again emphasise that the programme was hopelessly unbalanced……but thats the new order. The BBC knows where its bread is buttered whether its Iraq or Gerry Adams.
    Not only were critical victims excluded but the SDLP (Hume) only existed in archive form and there was little or no Southern input. Presumably the SDLP and southern parties are rivals of the SF-IRA.
    Btw any progress on the Vatican-Belgium post. I did ask in another thread.

  • qwerty12345

    It was a strange show – Gerry as celeb, gardener, tree hugger. However the comments from the protestant clergymen were the most telling and interesting bit.

    Worth a watch for those alone, oh and for Barbara Streisand, im sure sales from her back catalogue will suffer in some quarters hahahahaha

  • karlopolo

    wonder why no-one’s ever suggested this (maybe they have?)

    for someone coming from a family background so steeped in republicanism, it is entirely possible that Adams never had to actually JOIN the IRA: as in go through whatever ceremony it is you go through.

    he was more born into it than enlisted, if you get my meaning?

    just an idea …

  • Was Ed Moloney unavailable for comment or was he unlikely to dance to this scurrilous tune? Where was Papa Doc Paisley?

  • HeinzGuderian

    Always look on the bright side of life……………..El Beardo always does…………..apparently ?? 🙂

  • Cormac Mac Art

    As a SF voter, what do you think went wrong in their approach in the south?

  • Cormac Mac Art

    “the comments from the protestant clergymen were the most telling and interesting bit.”

    I didn’t see the program; what did they say?

  • Cormac Mac Art

    It is a pretty serious obstacle to anyone outside the republican heartlands, SF having so many members who served in the IRA. Why do you think the party has done so badly in the south?

  • Andrew M

    Get it on BBC Iplayer guys –


  • Andrew M

    Was I the only one to notice he said he grew a chestnut tree from an acorn – he must indeed be Jesus.

    Barbara Streisand getting hot flushes as she talks about him is as bizarre as it is hilarious.

  • It seems to me there are, and have always been, many sides to GA, there is no doubt he and MMcG put themselves on the line when they decided progress could only be made through peaceful means. For that they deserve the thanks of everyone who believes in a peaceful solution.

    The child’s bike would not have been there had he not wanted it to be. He is reaching out, and trying to do it on his terms. Im not sure he will be allowed to do that, but it will be interesting to watch.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    True …but it might change SOME perceptions.
    Revds Newell, Good, Reid, and Messrs McBride & Bliar all seemed to be men who had their perceptions changed.
    Meanwhile despite valiant efforts of Adams critics, none of the 172,000 who voted SF-IRA seem to be having perceptions changed.
    Oh and we could add the “dissidents” to the list of adams critics not featured in the programme.

  • redhugh78

    The anti-sf/Adams clique on Slugger (about 95% I reckon) see Gerry compared to ‘..Dr king,..Cesar Chavez.., Mandela..’ by international political figure and they don’t like it.
    Great stuff.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    I wonder does Gerry tune into Sluger, read all the ideological vitriol and think to himself – Jeez I havent lost it.

    When Tony Blair said that Gerry and Marty were really good friends – I’m sure I could hear the collective grinding of Unionists teeth and the spitting of blood by assorted begrudgers.

    The fact is, unpalatable as it may be to some, the boy Grizzly is a star.

  • Mick Fealty

    “They don’t like it up ’em Sir, they don’t like it up ’em…” 😉

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Of course its the Twelfth so the begrudgers could all be on holiday.

  • Mick Fealty

    It was an early 70s TV reference from the Wheeltappers and Shunters Club…

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    I certainly hope he reads this.
    I mean the Slugger entry on Wikipedia says that 96% of MLAs read this so even if Gerry isnt one of them he prolly knows a lot of his colleagues who do.
    Im sure he talks to his trees about us.

  • King Kai

    Interesting Gerry being a keen Gardner, it would explain all that fertilizer in the shed. lol. Iv never believed a word the man has said and him denying being in the ira is embarrassing. Iv never heard of anyone agreeing with his comments surrounding this issue which is why its still mentioned. As for Barbara i wonder would she forgive Hitler for the damage done to her people. Maybe she needs educated on what Gerry and his friends really did to other humans.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit

    Do you read Slugger Grizzly?

    Grizzly: I do surely, McGregor and Baker really crack me up.

    You deny ever being in the IRA, so why did you wear that funny hat when you were a wee fellah?

    Grizzzly: It was a fierce coul house for Nationalists back in the seventies and youd catch your death so you woud.

  • sam

    I wonder how the Americans would react to unionist inviting Osama Bin laden to Belfast and calling him a freedom fighter comparable to Nelson Mandela. It would be funny to watch. I am sure many unionists found the ‘documentary’ nauseating and more like an hour long election broadcast on behalf on Sinn Fein. It contrasts notably with the hatchet job that the BBC did on Peter Robinson prior to the general election.
    Sadly some people in this country would elect a turd so long as it was wrapped in a tricolour.

  • White Horse


    they can make their subject look like the second coming of Jesus Christ.

    Sure Gerry is the ultimate Second Coming of Christ for those who advocate empire. The violence is all forgotten because that’s just the way we are and Jesus would have done it too had he been given the chance.

    Gerry is everything that the empire wants in a Christ, a strategic thinker who controls through a mixture of fear and love, a militant hero, who stood up to the empire and became the guarded insider who they need to protect in order to keep order in the recalcitrant land. Gerry is now the essential British Christ, who gave up the ghost, and is now needed to save Britain’s interests at all costs. He is the defeated Christ objectively, but long will he be paraded by the British as one of them and as their Christ.

  • DC

    I don’t think anyone minds about the friendship things and him being global etc, but for me it’s more to do with the fact that NI is stagnating politically and economically fast becoming one big mundane, overly regulated, grade-orientated, public sector-driven (wired-up in reliance of the Westminster transfers) economic backwater. Etc etc.

  • Granni Trixie

    The 2 Ministers are from an ecumenical/peacy backgound where I think they are a bit brainwashed to ‘be’ a certain way which is what they are doing in this doc.
    All in all its as if there is no such thing as ‘justifiable anger’ or ‘nonadmiration’ so sophistry prevails.

    I mean I can try to give up ‘casting up’ the sins of the past but in the long run I uphold rthe right to set terms for new relationships,understandings that what certain people did is repugnant. Otherwise pretend,pretend pretend is the name of the game.

    Alec Reid is a different kettle of fish. Saw him on telly at time of giving up guns time where he said he trusted the IRA. Nuf said.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Ah Alec Reid….yes I saw him on telly when the two corporals were butchered behind the Mace at Andersonstown.
    He seemed quite distressed at violence.
    Nuf said.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Indeed Sam.
    Or indeed inviting Archbishop Makarios to London. Or Jomo Kenyatta. Or Nelson Mandela.
    Not of course comparing them with Gerry Adams.
    Or Menachim Begin.
    Or indeed Osama Bin Ladin.
    But you see where Im going with it dontcha?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Ah Yes………Wheeltappers and Shunters. Colin Crompton, Bernard Manning, George Roper.
    Too many Citeh fans for my personal taste 😉
    Quiet please……..all around the rooooooooooooom.

  • King Kai

    There would be outrage but what if we collected money for him as well?. I once ask gerry on radio Ulster what was the difference between 9/11 and Canery Wharf but he refused to answer me.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Yes but you dont really need to ask Gerry Adams do you? The salient fact is that 172,000 people dont care.

  • redhugh78

    I’m sure she would be as forgiving of Hitler as the people of Dresden would be of Churchill.

  • Granni Trixie

    FJH: funny you should mention the Corporals Killings and Fr Reid. I researched this ‘ontoward event’ (as we call it in anthropology) for a post grad course because I was interested in the construction of narratives and how the outside world demonised WB because of this event and how people inside WB perceived what happened,contextualising it in ‘two weeks of meyhem’ and Millltown and Michael Stone. I talked to journalists who attended the funeral and FR Reid, being favourably disposed to him then but over the years, for various reasons, changed my view.

  • TheHorse

    Unfortunetly for Unionists American values are not the type Unionists have, unlike Unionists, they change with the times, sure didn’t they once court Osama Bin Ladin, trained him, oh and his family are good friends of the Bush family.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    See…I would never make the mistake of talking to a journalist LOL

  • West Sider

    Haven’t read a single comment on here – and haven’t seen the doc.

    But, having read both of Ed Moloney’s books on Adams, I conclude the man is a colossus in terms of the lives he’s saved.

    Ed says that he wiped the eyes of the most militant republicans back in 1997 and in 1994, to ensure that the IRA stopped murdering.

    So many lives were saved by his actions and the fact that he put his own life on the line to do it, regardless of his past, means people who value life over dogma – meaning virtually everyone – should celebrate him.

    I’m just so glad Ed Moloney spent all that time and effort to detail that and present such a compelling case for Adams to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.

    And when he does, when set alongside Hume and Trimble – it will show who really took risks for peace.

    Thanks Ed.

  • Barnshee

    The “big deal” is that Ger now has a pound or two. Any link to eg La Mon just might provoke an Omagh style process where injured parties might try for some of the loot.

  • MonkdeWallydeHonk


    “Sadly some people in this country would elect a turd so long as it was wrapped in a tricolour.”

    That statement would be just as true if you substitute “Union Jack” for Tricolour.

  • “The anti-sf/Adams clique on Slugger (about 95% I reckon) see Gerry compared to ‘..Dr king,..Cesar Chavez.., Mandela..’ by international political figure and they don’t like it. Great stuff.”

    And these ‘international political figures’ are, in many if not all cases those who opposed the Provisional republican movement for decades. Only started admiring Mandela when he was released from jail and turned out to be a safe pair of hands when it came to protecting capital. Did little or nothing in the struggle for black equality and against racism. Sided with the employers in countless industrial disputes and when in power refused to remove anti trade union legislation from the statute book.

    If I had friends like these I would take a shotgun to my guts.

    If I were a cheer leader for Gerry, I would be asking why the British broadcasting corporation, is providing Gerry with such a star studded, powder puff of a documentary. The BBC is an Organization which has never shown any sympathy for republicanism, indeed it has been down right hostile towards it down the decades.

    I understand well why Gerry as an active politicians refuses to confirm he was a member of the IRA, I feel he would be a fool to do otherwise, what I cannot understand is why he keeps denying it. He should say nothing, or tell any journalist who raises this question to stop being silly, next question.

    The reason the media keep asking this question is Gerry keeps answering it with a denial, and there is nothing the media likes more than to see one of its hate figures struggling on the end of a hook they have baited.(make no mistake Adams is still a media hate figure, despite documentaries like this)

    I find it almost unbelievable that Gerry still invites attention from documentary film makers like those who produced this programe. A 61 year old grandfather and he still needs his ego massaged by such folk. It bewilders me.

    I would have more respect for him if he allowed one of his left- republican critics to interview him, instead of the likes of the BBC or one of the English broadsheets. Whenever he is asked, the answer is always no.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Indeed it was a puff-piece….
    But how on Earth would it benefit Gerry Adams to be interviewed by a left-republican critic (presume thats code for no mark dissident who thinks he is a journalist).
    Firstly Adams is right to choose his own ground.
    And secondly it would only give these critics a degree of credibility which they crave.
    The implication that Adams is tolerated in BBC circles because he is no longer “republican” is of course mere spin….along the lines that the British sell their friends and buy their enemies.
    But an equally valid spin is that SF-IRA at the heart of government is the new reality.
    Maybe in a few years when Mr Adams retires from active politics, he will be offered the role of a BBC Governor.
    Like it or not SF-IRAis now … the new Establishment.
    The dissidents keep saying to anyone who will listen (ie nobody) that SF-IRA has merely JOINED the existing Establishment.
    But they would say that……wouldnt they?

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    re. “I find it almost unbelievable that Gerry still invites attention from documentary film makers like those who produced this programe”

    Gerry continues to fascinate – in contemporary nomenclature it is referred to as the X Factor – you are just going to have to get used to it.

  • Nothwithstanding his undoubtedly heroic conversion to democratic means. It seems one of the benefits of justifying violence for so long is GA has managed to turn himself into a ‘B’ list celebrity. Still it could be worse; he could be C, or D..

  • lamhdearg

    He don’t fascinate me (i spared myself watching this and went to bed) but then i refuse to watch x factor and big brother as well. [text removed – play the ball and not the man! – mods]

  • Mick Fealty


    I love the way you habitually shift the focus from the subject to the critic. If you have the patience, stick with this 3.25 hour epic at Stormont on Thursday: http://url.ie/6oe0.

    I readily admit that you do get politics (or at least electoral politics). But you display little understanding of the imperatives of journalism within a free and democratically run society.

    The video (okay, I know it is over three hours long) above shows what just what fools ‘majority rule’ can make of otherwise good people and the residual value of intelligent and constructive dissent.

  • Alias

    Good points, Mick Hall. I agree about Mandela selling out his people and being duly rewarded with sycophancy from the British media, and also I’ve also noticed state controlled broadcasting services such as C4 and the BBC being used to rebuild public perceptions about Mr Adams now that he promotes British national interests. Another recent example being the programme wherein ‘old soldiers’ told their ‘war’ stories about jail breaks and other daring bravado. And, of course, Danny Morrison being anxious to get a story in the media about rubbing shoulders with the Royals and telling us that ‘a line is drawn under the past’ so these are the ‘good republicans’ who accept the legitimacy of British rule and affirm that state’s constitutional position that their non-sovereign nation has no inalianable right to determine its own affairs…

  • redhugh78

    yes,but they are still international political figures at the end of the day, and the person in the documenray who mentions Adams along with Mandela,King and Chavez is Jessie Jackson who I assume would not be included in the figures you might be referring to.

  • billy

    King Kai wrote,

    “There would be outrage but what if we collected money for him as well?. I once ask gerry on radio Ulster what was the difference between 9/11 and Canery Wharf but he refused to answer me.”


    Er, the fact the RA gave a warning, perhaps?

  • billy

    I was impressed by Adams whilst watching the piece. I think a lot of the regulars here were probably shocked by his calmness especially given the mounting and vicious attacks on the man – many of which appeared on this site – in the pre-election period.

    I suppose if you’ve lived 4/5ths of your life under threat of assassination then the frenzied rantings of a few keyboard monkeys don’t really register much.

    Adams knew the story ‘on the ground’. Nobody forced his constituents (probably the most politically aware voters in the north) to vote for him and, yet, they did – in massive numbers once again.

    Yes, the guy has his flaws. But as a politician he’s probably the one of the most brilliant Ireland has ever produced. As an individual he has come a long road which has led him to a place of peace and compromise. Clearly, many of the nasty haters here are a long, long way behind him.

  • FJH

    I would suggest some of Mr Adams critics have a great deal more credibility than the man himself, especially over recent years, but we are all subjective on such things.

    The point is Gerry has built his career on claiming he is different from the opportunist politicians, think back to his understandably harsh attacks on leaders of the SDLP.

    He also claims to wish to get his republican critics on side, what better way than to allow one of their number to interview him, so political and strategic difference can be brought out into the open, instead of this continuos sniping by both sides. I use the word sniping deliberately, as Irish history is littered with political differences left to fester spilling over into violence.

    By the way what is this all about, “(presume thats code for no mark dissident who thinks he is a journalist)”

    One does not have to be a professional journalist to ask sensible questions or engage in debate, nor are all Republicans who disagree with Mr Adam’s no marks, not by a long way.

    Funny how you use such low life language to describe those republicans who disagree with Adam’s, but you have no such insulting words for the journalists who betrayed their profession by making what you rightly describe as a
    “puff piece.”

    The fact is the majority of republican’s who oppose, or feel uneasy about Adams Strategy, do not support the continuation of the armed struggle. The fact he refuses to engage with them, despite many having once been his comrades within the army and SF, makes one doubt his ability to challenge their ideas intellectualy.

    Surely if there is one thing the last 70 odd years has taught us, it is if Republicanism is ghettoised it will lash out violently.

    Instead of posing with his new found ‘international’ friends, Gerry should be explaining to the Republican base that SF strategy is not yet another case of a leadership betrayal, but a strategic, unavoidable turn, due to the Provos inability to achieve its main aims. If he fails to do this, especially as the economic crises takes hold, the one more heave mentality which has cursed Republicanism will take hold, with yet another generation of young Irish people lost.

    So far all he has done is dress up setbacks, some say defeats, although not I, as victories. Which does not put bread on the table within working class nationalist communities, let alone their unionist counterparts, nor does it douse the fire in young republican bellies.


  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Fealty,
    Oh I think I “get” journalism too. Which is perhaps why so many journalists dont like me.
    On the other hand two of Sluggers regulars “know” that I am a journalist. So I must be.
    I take the view that a story…itself mediated……begins with the by-line not AFTER the bi-line. I take the view that people reading a story should at least know who is writing it.
    As I have pointed out Journalism should not merely be about stringing a few words together..there should be an appreciation of the historical context. And not many journos seem capable of doing that.
    Im not sure how I turned the focus on the “critic” in the little paragraph “wot I wrote”.
    I merely highlighted three things
    That Gerry Adams would be extremely stupid to allow himself to be interviewed by a known critic. (wasnt it in the New Statesman that a journo identified himself as “her majestys press” like he had a statutory right to have access).
    That the term “left republican” ( a new phrase to me) seems a peculiarly soft focus term for (I assume) a dissident republican ….there are of course other perjorative terms for such people.
    And seemingly these days NUJ cards are handed out in Corn Flakes packets…..but not at Belfast Metro College.
    You see Mr Fealty……I think I am a Journalist. Well kinda. I write a Journal. Actually several.
    And I have a background in History which I think gives me a certain insight….well thats what the paperwork says …into context. A bit churlish to think that I “get” electoral politics but not politics itself. Well clearly my appreciation of and access to stats proves that. And of course you can mark me down on the broader appreciation which is largely a question of judgement. I can of course feel the same about anyone else.

    You see I think with that background and writing a journal…….this actually gives me an advantage over SOME witha NUJ card and no real background to contextualise what they report. Especially if they write with an agenda.
    Now I readily admit that many of our finest journos have overcome this disadvantage.
    But there is more to being a plumber than turning up in my driveway in a white van and having some cards printed on a machine in Castle Court.
    More to being a Journalist than having a NUJ card.
    In a sense this is the downside of Internet freedom (the likes of me claiming to be a journalist of sorts). This is the genie that advocates of new media have unleashed. Either we are all equal as “journalists” or the professionals are “more equal”. Hence Slugger O’Toole tying themselves in knots agonising about how to improve comments (ie how to limit the amateurs)
    You cant advocate the new media AND give the professionals an exaggereated view of their own importance. The magnificent Peter Spencer (Sky News) has claimed that journalists dont die of drink. they die of their self importance.
    The context of the Adams story IS important. And Im right to point it out. Im right (as others have done) the most avid Adams watchers have avoided this thread. That silence speaks volumes.
    The puff piece. How did it happen?
    Did Sinn Féin Press Office get on to the BBC and say “We would like a nice soft feature on Gerry Adams?” Can you order up friendly journalism from the BBC in the same way you order a Dominos pizza.
    Or more likely it seems….this documentary originated with the BBC. Do they have producers? Editors? Commissioning editors?
    Would a 1970s, 1980s editor have ordered up a piece so obviously uncritical?
    So I submit that theres a new Reality in Ormeau Avenue which previous (perhaps politically or dare I say morally) motivated producers would not like.

  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    “He also claims to wish to get his republican critics on side, what better way than to allow one of their number to interview him, so political and strategic difference can be brought out into the open, instead of this continous sniping by both sides”

    It is difficult to see how it would be in his or SF’s interest to give publicity to his poitical rivals and bestow credibility on them.

    Jim Allister secured significant air time by establishing his credibility by attracting votes – if the ‘other’ republicans* want to engage with Adams or with the political process let them stand for election – until they do that and we can see what support they have they should be given little air time.

    *Crypto dissers, who dont approve nor condemn disser violence

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Adams is not a fool.
    Why expose himself to a Journalist who is critical, whether from the Daily Mail or a dissident witha NUJ card.
    Would either be convinced?
    I doubt it.
    Would not these journos……who have an agenda……not use their editing skills to portray Adams in a bad light?
    Or are journos from the Daily Mail and the republican extreme ….principled? Equally principled?
    Maybe in your view one is more principled than the other?

    Any journo or “civilian” has the right to ask Adams any question.
    They have no statutory powers.
    If he chooses not to answer, or even talk to them, its his right……and inconveniently for his detractors, his lack of engagement is not costing him votes.
    As to your point about being critical of those who produced this unbalanced puff piece……I think I have been critical. And questioned the motivation.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Well said sir.
    Are you perhaps me with a different name LOL.

  • King Kai

    To attack a tower block full of innocent people is cowardly and despicable. If you think a 10p phone call minutes before hand makes it ok then your just as dispicable. Terrorists from whatever ilk have no shame and will find any excuse to kill and the sheep who support them know no better. Gerry will pay his debt some day for the evil path he lived on and i wont shed one tear.

  • billy

    King Kai’s off on one, it seems:

    King Kai wrote,

    “There would be outrage but what if we collected money for him as well?. I once ask gerry on radio Ulster what was the difference between 9/11 and Canery Wharf but he refused to answer me.”


    Er, the fact the RA gave a warning, perhaps?

    King Kai says:3 July 2010 at 9:45 pm

    To attack a tower block full of innocent people is cowardly and despicable. If you think a 10p phone call minutes before hand makes it ok then your just as dispicable. Terrorists from whatever ilk have no shame and will find any excuse to kill and the sheep who support them know no better. Gerry will pay his debt some day for the evil path he lived on and i wont shed one tear.


    Er, Kai, where did I say it was okay?

    You wanted to know the difference bewteen Canary Wharf and 9/11…I suggested the difference was that the RA gave a warning. It’s a pretty important difference (to the tune of 100s of lives no doubt).

    Calm down and repost in a rational way, yes?

  • Mick Fealty

    So you didn’t follow the links to see what I was talking about then?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    To Stormont….nope

  • Mick Fealty

    Then how is this a reply? Jerry Fodor again:

    “You say there’s nothing that you know for sure? What about whether you have a nose? No? But what’s that thing just south of your eyes and north of your mouth? And what’s holding your glasses up?” It is a characteristic relativist claim that, in principle, we can always make up alternative versions of the stories that we tell about the world. But one finds, if one actually tries, that it is surprisingly hard to do so. “Maybe it’s all just a dream?” Well, maybe; but how would that explain what holds your glasses up?

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Mr Fealty,
    I havent a clue who Jerry Fodor was/is.

  • Mick Fealty

    You mean you didn’t bother following the links in the original story either? As the man once said: “Nothing comes from nothing. Speak again.”

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    The links
    1…..Birneys documentary…….I saw the documentary
    2…..fact in story telling……well not rocket science
    3…..aggressively contending……..surely we know he does this
    4…evade biographical details…….like I said at 3
    5 …liminal traces……yes thats obvious.

    So how would my reply have been different. It still seems to me to be a pretty darned good series of replies with or without Mr Foner.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    oops Fodor

  • Mick Fealty

    Tolkien (apparently): “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.”

  • Granni Trixie

    Thanks chaps, for some reason I find your spat terribly funny. (and isnt Fodor a travel book or something?).

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    “Sadly some people in this country would elect a turd so long as it was wrapped in a tricolour.”

    Monkdewallydehonk: ‘That statement would be just as true if you substitute “Union Jack” for Tricolour.’

    Actually it wouldn’t. See East Belfast.

  • Rory Carr


    I should be careful, if I were you, of claiming that, “And I have a background in History”. The same claim after all can be confidently made by a mere babe born only yesterday.

  • King Kai

    Bin Laden warned many times of attacking the USA is that justified then?. So are we to thank the ra for only killing two people at Canary Wharf?. Republicans hate the Brits for killing catholics during the conflict yet the ra killed more catholics than everyone else, I don’t get it. Maybe we can agree that all paramilitaries were/are a disgrace and this country could have sorted its problems out long ago without their existence.

  • billy

    Oh dear, Kai’s still not getting it.

    Since when did justification enter into it?

    The difference between 9/11 and Canary Wharf is that the RA gave a warning – thereby massively reducing civilian casualties. It’s a pretty simple point, Kai. Why all the rage?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Billy: ‘The difference between 9/11 and Canary Wharf is that the RA gave a warning – thereby massively reducing civilian casualties. It’s a pretty simple point, Kai. Why all the rage?’

    Which presumably excuses the likes of Enniskillen, Warrington and La Mon. Come off it Billy the only difference between the two is in terms of scale. The RA never had any problems with civilian casualties whether from ‘their own’ side or otherwise.

  • percy

    No-one can say Adams is one-dimensional, which I think is why these docs work.

  • King Kai

    IT i get, you on the other hand i dont. I fact you cant bring yourself to condemn the ira for their murder campaign sums you up.

  • Mick Fealty

    Something, I think. Check him out, he’s on Wikipedia GT!

  • billy


    i didn’t know i’d entered a condemnation contest.

    you asked the diff between 9/11 and canary wharf…i pointed out the difference: a warning.

    seems your rage has attracted other similarly enraged souls lol.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    Granni Trixie……….its not important enough to be a spat. LOL
    I didnt know who Fodor was……but I should have got the Tolkein reference.
    Fodor was a hobbit who is the hero of Tolkein books.

  • USA

    I tend to agree DC.

  • billy

    Oh wow, you’re famous Mick.


  • Itwas SammyMcNally whatdoneit


    after last night on the pop I’m not sure if I am or not