Adams damning McGuinness with faint praise..?

IT would have been easy for Gerry Adams to be fulsome in his praise of Martin McGuinness’ presidential campaign. Instead, the intro to Gerry Adams’ latest blog entry seems both ambiguous and odd – although the former may be politically ingrained and the latter blamed on his a faux folksy writing style. And – for a party as single-mindedly obsessed with expansionism as SF – not a word about the size of the vote.

Here’s the first par, the one every columnist knows is crucial, with the interesting bits in italics:

Martin McGuinness is a trail blazer. That much must be clear. Even to his detractors. A life devoted to struggle has seen many examples of this. Martin, in good times and bad, has had many opportunities and occasions to draw on these pioneering qualities. The net outcome has generally benefitted the people he struggled alongside. It has also, particularly in this time of peace, assisted those, in time of war, who would have been or seen themselves as his enemies or opponents.

Parsing Adams isn’t always easy, since he seems to revel in sending out different messages to different audiences in the same sentence. But he is a wordsmith, and so the ‘net’ outcome ‘generally’ benefitting McGuinness’ comrades seems a distinctly underwhelming commendation on any level. However, to accuse McGuinness of helping his enemies in any context is, well, strange and surprising to say the least, no matter how badly phrased. It seems designed to leave questions hanging in the air, unanswered. Is it some kind of shot across McGuinness’ bows? Why bring up such an issue at all?

Another paragraph caught my eye:

We also decided that Martin should challenge Sean Gallagher on this. We did so – and Martin challenged Sean Gallagher- in the knowledge at that stage in the campaign, depending on how Sean Gallagher responded, that Michael D Higgins would be the main beneficiary of any such challenge. Martin was and is entirely satisfied that this was the right thing to do. So am I.

Here, Adams is making it abundantly clear that the decision to challenge Gallagher was a collective one. It is reinforced several times with ‘we’ and is backed up with Adams’ and McGuinness’ endorsement. Such after-the-event unity can only mean that the decision to benefit Higgins rather than spare Gallagher has been criticised internally, the place where criticism really matters to Sinn Fein. And in this paragraph those critics are being told to shut up.

Despite his thanks to McGuinness in the last sentence, there is a distinct lack of direct and clear praise from Adams to his colleague. Indeed, all that Adams seems to think that has been achieved is that “many of the issues he argued for are now firmly on the public agenda”. Unfortunately for Sinn Fein, there are some issues from the past back on the agenda that may have largely disappeared over the horizon here, but haven’t gone away in the Republic.

Now, of course, McGuinness has to re-assume his role as deputy First Minister, and it will be interesting to see if perceptions of him change. Will his heart be in a job he knows is merely second best? Will he be seen as damaged goods, or a more fallible character? And will unionists who felt comfortable with a Chuckle Brother be influenced by Irish voters who just saw him as Chuckie Bother?

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  • Mick Fealty

    It’s almost impossible, as you say, to parse politician who rarely discloses in public what he actually thinks before any major event or policy launch. I interpret this as realistic an appraisal of a disappointing performance as you might expect. And some of it is in lock step with some of the more robust analysis on Slugger.

    The BelTel had a nicely provocative letter pointing out that given the fall back in SF’s Louth vote, Gerry might have been given the chance. Which might be closer to the real meaning of trail blazer in this context.

  • Psychoanalysis is always a perilous pursuit, particularly when conducted on the subject of a blog entry. I’d say SF has, however, learned a lot from this campaign and that Northerners in general have too. The insulated, ignorant mentality of some in the Southern elites surely points to a very significant challenge for republicans, perhaps as significant as unionism itself. It also illustrates how utterly wrong-headed dissidents are: the idea that British withdrawal would bring about a republic is at this stage preposterous. Using violence to do so is idiotic. You’d need to convince a significant section of Irish society – unionism in the North and Free Statism in the South – that republicanism has merit; in a way, the British are probably now one of the least obstacles to unity. Surveys show the majority wouldn’t miss Norn Iron one bit.

  • A few years ago, I said that Sinn Fein was the biggest obstacle to Irish unity, I actually think they figured it out too, given the massive changes they’ve made.

  • I don’t see what the problem is in ‘parsing’ this:

    “…It has also, particularly in this time of peace, assisted those, in time of war, who would have been or seen themselves as his enemies or opponents.”

    For clarification see Miriam Lord’s piece in the Irish Times last Saturday:

    “Earlier in the evening, the Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore bumped into the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams. A big grin spread across Gerry’s face. “You owe us big time now!” he smirked to Eamon.”

    Gerry’s been saying the same in all his appearances in the southern media over the weekend. The aim I suspect is to remind the Labour/Democratic Left/Workers Party/Sinn Féin The Workers Party/Official Sinn Féin supporters who is responsible for getting their man into the Áras so perhaps some of them might consider returning the favour next time.

  • Mick Fealty

    Nice one Ulick.

  • Ulick,

    I think your spot on, although some might feel Gerry was alluding to something else. Not sure if is he was firing a shot across the LP’s bows, more likely pointing out SF could be a useful partner.

  • I think Ulick makes an excellent point – it could be a subtle reminder to the Irish left that one good turn deserves another.

  • SethS

    The Irish left has never really been known for helping each other out though has it.

  • “A few years ago, I said that Sinn Fein was the biggest obstacle to Irish unity”

    BG, surely the biggest obstacle to Irish unity from the time of Daniel O’Connell has been Ulster Unionism. The various strands of militant Irish nationalism over the generations since have reinforced the Ulster Unionist coalition, a coalition of very diverse interests.

    What exactly does the current PRM have in common with the likes of Michael D Higgins and his affection for Connolly and Larkin? Adams and McGuinness both abandoned the socialist camp when the going here got hot and heavy.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Parsing is further complicated by the fact that he is such a staggeringly bad writer. This passage did amuse me:

    “I gave Michael D my second preference vote. The tally people tell me that many of his voters returned the favour to Martin a thousand fold.”

    Read literally of course this is an accusation of personation on a vast scale although I’m reasonably sure it’s not what he intended to say. He may simply have been saying they got a thousand Lab 2nds but it’s hard to be sure.

  • Jimmy Sands

    BG, surely the biggest obstacle to Irish unity from the time of Daniel O’Connell has been Ulster Unionism.

    Actually they’ve generally been the biggest threat to the union.

  • Lionel Hutz

    BG,

    I think that this election has shown that Sinn Fein are creating more partition. Southerners are considering nordies as Sinners and they dont like them

  • “Actually they’ve generally been the biggest threat to the union.”

    Jimmy, the theme was ‘obstacle to Irish unity’. One interpretation of your retort reinforces the point I made 😉

  • Alias

    Ulick, Labour is PSF’s main rival, not FF. The Shinners are after the working class vote, not the middle classes. Labour have the office of president for the first time in its history, and have finally broken out of the margins of Irish politics and into the mainstream. Bolstering first preferences for your main political rival in the hope that some of their voters may confer their second or third preference on you out of a sense of gratitude is quite possibly the world’s dumbest political strategy. Not that begging for a rival party’s crumbs is a strategy, of course, but rather an attempt to claim some credit from Marty’s failure to win back the flaoting votes from Gallagher after his Frontline stunt.

  • Alias

    “Southerners are considering nordies as Sinners and they dont like them.”

    Good observation. You were done for “down here” when the voice of ‘northerners’ stopped being Mr Hume and became Mr Adams – not that they liked you much to begin with.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Ulick, Labour is PSF’s main rival, not FF.

    I don’t think so. They’ve done best lately in border areas where Labour has rarely had much presence.

  • Alias

    Jimmy, the Shinners have zero support among the middle classes. Labour have a little. It is the poorer social groups where both parties ply their trade.

  • Éamon de Valera sent the Irish plenipotentiaries to the 1921 negotiations in London with several draft treaties

    Is Gerry playing the Dev hand? Sending Martin ‘over the top’ in the face of possible enemy fire – first into the Executive and the OFMDFM and now into the Irish Presidential election – is not the example of a general leading his troops from the front. Both of these are lesser roles for Gerry than that of President of the ‘legitimate government of Ireland’. TD for Louth and MP and MLA for West Belfast is and were roles for a back seat driver.

  • Marcus McSpartacus

    May I suggest tealeaves? (Do you want me to parse that comment for you?)

  • PaulT

    This quote from the same blog is enlightening, does..er…anyone recognise themselves?

    “They obviously need to be given time to come to the new dispensation which now exists across this island. Like the unionist leaderships most of them, though maybe not all of them, will come around. Until then this infuriating and self-serving negativity is just something they have to go through. Thankfully we don’t have to wait for them to play catch up. The rest of us can get on with narrowing the political gap between north and south. That gap was considerably closed in the course of this presidential election campaign.

    For that and for many other achievements thank you Martin.”

  • 241934 john brennan

    Just like Humpty Dumpty in Alice and Wonderland, it is impossible to know what Gerry Adams ever means – for “Words mean what I say they mean”.

    Take the well known sentence, “I was never a member of the IRA.’ Those 8 simple words suggest only one meaning. But to the convoluted they are capable of infinite interpretation. e.g. what does ‘member’, mean. Who, or what, is ‘the IRA’?

  • Jimmy Sands

    And of course, what does “I” mean? Gerry Adams? Richard McCauley? Who knows?

  • 241934 john brennan

    And of course who knows anything at all about Brownie?

  • Cynic2

    “one good turn deserves another”

    SF? Cronyism? Never!

  • Decimus

    The aim I suspect is to remind the Labour/Democratic Left/Workers Party/Sinn Féin The Workers Party/Official Sinn Féin supporters who is responsible for getting their man into the Áras so perhaps some of them might consider returning the favour next time.

    Ulick,

    If that is indeed the aim then it seems like a fairly foolish one. The much derided ‘Sticks’ are unlikely to lend any support to their Provo enemies. Is it not simply the case that Adams is desperately trying to make it look as if there was in fact a well thought out ‘aim’, when in fact they were simply given an opportunity to strike a blow against one of their opponents and couldn’t resist taking it? Which makes it look as if they were incapable of thinking through the likely consequences.

  • Jimmy Sands

    I would expect the warmth and goodwill displayed by the provos towards the stickies over the years to be fully reciprocated.

  • dwatch

    Liam Adams extradited to Northern Ireland – RTÉ News
    http://www.rte.ie/news/2011/1102/adamsl.html