Many many years ago, when I was about to moderate a long forgotten election debate on BBCNI, an eminent Irish speaker rang me up and offered to supply me with a tough question for Gerry Adams in Irish. To have accepted would have been entirely wrong from every point of view. It would have shown up the BBC as biased against the Sinn Fein leader by using an obvious trick to expose what was then believed to be his very limited command of the First Official. And even more to the point than getting myself fired, I would have been left stumped when he replied in even the most basic Irish as he undoubtedly would have. And by the way, I’m not in the least proud of my ignorance of Irish due to our divided educational system, it’s a real deficiency).
Gerry Adams may flaunt his Irish at every public opportunity with a greeting and a few opening sentences, but how fluent in it is he really these days? It’s not much more than a bit of fun, but I dearly missed his presence in the TG 4 leaders’ debate (not that I’d have watched it but I would have enjoyed the reports.) I would like to know more about how the line up was shortened compared to the five person cast of the first RTE debate. A credibility test was missed. Luckily for Gerry or not?
Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London