Adams apology worse than no apology at all…

Aside from the obvious tragedy involved, it’s interesting to witness the contrast between how north and south treat the killing of a policeman on active duty, and the importance of national colours.

Every official building in Dublin had the tricolour flying at half mast. By all accounts, the atmosphere in the Dail was pretty tense, when Deputy Adams finally decided to apologise for the murder (see Carlota’s correction here) of the last Guard on active duty in the Republic, Garda McCabe.

Miriam Lord in The Irish Times:

There was a brittle tension in the air as he spoke, a raw edge to the proceedings. Like people were holding their breath, waiting.

“An attack on a member of the Garda Síochána is an attack on all of us,” said Eamon Gilmore, speaking of “a man who lived for the ideals of public service and service to the community”.

Micheál Martin spoke of the nation’s deep shock at the news of “the cold-blooded slaying” of Det Garda Donohoe. “The State has suffered a direct attack. There is something truly harrowing about young children being robbed of their father at such a fragile age.”

Many of the politicians had experienced this situation before. Some were experiencing that communal feeling of shock and sorrow for the first time as public representatives.

And yet, there was something deeper about what was taking place in the Dáil chamber. You could feel it.

It was because of the presence of Sinn Féin, and in particular, its leader Gerry Adams and, sitting behind him, the TD for Kerry South, Martin Ferris.

She goes on…

The Sinn Féin deputy for Louth spoke of how Det Garda Donohoe “was a valued member of our local community” and told of how his killing had shocked the community in the Cooley area.

When he said the death of Adrian Donohoe has “also provoked memories of the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe and the wounding of Garda Ben O’Sullivan in June 1996”, the chamber took a sharp intake of breath.

“I want to apologise to Mrs McCabe and the McCabe family, and to Garda Ben O’Sullivan and to the families of other members of the State forces who were killed by republicans in the course of the conflict. I am very sorry for the pain and loss inflicted on those families. No words of mine can remove that hurt. Dreadful deeds cannot be undone.”

Deputy Adams finished with an appeal to people who might have any information to come forward to the Garda or the PSNI..

So, he apologised. And, well, I’ll let Miriam tell it:

There wasn’t a word from anyone, including the grave-faced Sinn Féin TDs. He sat down. The sullen, cold silence remained.

Afterwards, Government deputies shrugged and wondered why a man who insists he was never a member of the IRA would apologise on behalf of comrades he never had. And others wondered what “conflict” had been taking place in the quiet Limerick town of Adare when Jerry McCabe was callously gunned down.

Then they shook their heads and said the apology had to be welcomed.

It’s the only way. They know it. But you could see it stuck in the craw nonetheless.

Andrew Lynch in this evening’s Herald concludes a hard hitting analysis to the effect that

“if Adams is truly sorry, there is one thing he could do – tell the truth about his IRA role and the lives he helped to destroy. Until then he should save his breath to cool his porridge because all he has achieved this week is to prove that an empty apology is worse than no apology at all.”

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  • carl marks

    “if Adams is truly sorry, there is one thing he could do – tell the truth about his IRA role and the lives he helped to destroy. Until then he should save his breath to cool his porridge because all he has achieved this week is to prove that an empty apology is worse than no apology at all.”

    I agree with this Mike, but (there’s always a but isn’t there) he isn’t the only one; there are some who will jump on this who have to come clean about their role in our history.
    I’m not going for whataboutry but unless all fess up then the thing gets unbalanced.
    Having said that there’s no reason why Gerry can’t get the ball rolling.

  • Mick Fealty

    There’s a point in that cm. His problem in the Dail is that few if any of his parliamentary peers have that problem.

    The Herald piece is not online yet, but it is excoriating.

  • sherdy

    Had Adams not apologised in the Dail he would have been criticised, had he been absent he would have been criticised. So would the critics have been happier had either of these things happened?

  • It’s naive to see this as anything other than electoral strategy, plain and simple – Deputy Adams is attempting to put clear blue water between himself and the murder of all Gardaí so as to shore up his support base in Louth (whether he runs again himself, or hands over to someone else). He has noted the public mood and adjusted his message accordingly.

    The fact that this point has not been yet made just shows how smart a move it was on his behalf, but also shows how far the normalisation of SF in southern politics has become.

  • Mick we’re all well used to excoriating pieces from the Herald, they come at least twice a week but like their stalemates in the Sindo/Indo the effectiveness is blunted somewhat by the saturation, propaganda and lies.

    Anyhow back to Gerry Ahh, let’s not pretend for a second that as soon as Gerry admitted membership he wouldn’t be up on changes in the same manner as Padraic Wilson last November:

    I know it, you know, Miriam Lord knows it, the Evening Herald knows it, but ignoring that particular elephant allows his detractors maintain this particular line of attack. Thankfully most of the public are wise to it as well.

  • JR

    There is somthing very hypocritical about Fianna Fáil and Finne Gael’s attitude to Sinn Fein. After all are they not both just sinn fein two generations further on?

    Gerry Adams himself is a hypocrite so I won’t defend him personally but I don’t like how the TD’s in the south are so much more vocal now when sinn fein are a threat to them electorally than when they were killing people but of no threat politically.

  • carl marks

    This is a problem with a past it catches up with you, true it is a case of dammed if you do and dammed if you don’t.

  • Ulick,

    I imagine that parliamentary privilege applies in the Dail and that anything said there could not be used in a court of law.

  • Nordie Northsider

    Sherdy – you’re right about the damned if he does, damned if he doesn’t aspect of this but it’s hard to deny that Adams has a credibility problem. When he denies involvement in the IRA no-one, simply no-one, believes him. That basic mismatch between what Gerry wants people to believe and what everyone actually does believe is absolutely corrosive to his credibility and to Sinn Féin’s.

  • USA

    The headline on this post is misleading to say the least Mick.

    Adams obviously went above and beyond with these remarks and apology. It is simply lazy of the southern media to regurgitate these tired old jibes as SF try to build bridges to a better future. Adams’ speech made me think of Cameron when he offered his full fledged apology for Bloody Sunday. Camerons speech was hailed as progress. This speach is progress also. Some media and political hacks in Dublin have simply not kept pace with the nature and pace of change. They will eventually “get it” or be left behind.

    BTW – it’s off thread – but I thought this was very interesting from Sammy Wilson. He certainly is in line with the public mood, but maybe he also smells blood in the water over the #flegs issue, and has decided to move to the center: Sammy Wilson. At the very least he threw the protestors under the bus. Many will agree with his position and nationalists would be happy to finally hear some clear “honest” blue sky thinking from an elected Unionist

  • Mark

    Does Andrew Lynch write anything else except excoriating pieces about Gerry Adams ? It’s no real surprise .

    As CM alluded to earlier on the thread , if Gerry comes ” clean ” … well everyone should come clean or else it will remain a dirty little war !

  • @Joe
    “I imagine that parliamentary privilege applies in the Dail and that anything said there could not be used in a court of law.”

    Two jurisdictions Joe, there wouldn’t be any parliamentary privilege in the north.

  • babyface finlayson

    “I am very sorry for the pain and loss inflicted on those families.”
    A carefully worded apology,it seems to me.
    It can be taken as apologising for the inevitable effects of the killing rather than the killing itself.
    In other words ‘we are not sorry we killed him, we are sorry that doing so caused suffering to others.’ Weasel words.
    Such an apology is indeed worse than no apology at all.

  • carl marks

    babyface finlayson
    Indeed that is one of the many problems with apologises, the wording.
    They can be phrased in such a way as to be worthless or even not to be an apology at all,
    When Gusty Spence give the apology on behalf of the loyalists the phrase “Innocent victims” was put in there, which then brought up the problem of what was a Innocent victim, I have a feeling that the various loyalist terror groups didn’t think that they killed many “innocent” people.
    You are right this could be interpreted as you say mealy-mouthed, perhaps instead of apologies perhaps we would be better asking for the truth.

  • Congal Claen

    I agree with JR. Why is murdering policemen in the 1920s OK, but so horrendous now? Some of the things the old Ra did were way worse than this incident. Throwing 2 RIC men into the furnace in Tralee gas works, whilst still alive, springs to mind. It isn’t just the shinners that need to apologise…

    Meanwhile, Scotland could be independent in less than 2 years without so much as a drink being spilled…

  • carl marks

    Congal Claen
    You have mentioned this before and then as now I can find no reference to it anywhere, perhaps you could enlighten us with dates etc.
    it seems to be a bogey man story!

  • bille1319

    Til Gerry Adams gets down on his knees and begs forgiveness, I shall not heed a single word of his hollow apology. Too often I have followed the remains of an off duty policeman or UDR man to their graves. And while Gerry Adams gloated and justified his wanton destruction against the British state, the orphans and many widows wept bitterly and grieved and mourned the empty seats

  • babyface finlayson

    carl marks
    “You are right this could be interpreted as you say mealy-mouthed, perhaps instead of apologies perhaps we would be better asking for the truth.”
    You might be right. And the Gusty Spence apology you mention is another example of the same thing.
    I was lucky never to lose anyone close to me in the troubles so I may not be best placed to say if the truth would be more appreciated than any apology, but I suspect you are right.
    Personally I would prefer Gerry to stand up and say;
    a) ‘this was our war, these killings were necessary and justified,’
    b) ‘we thought these killings were justified but we now know they were not. They were wasted lives’

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Carl,

    type in ‘Tralee gas works RIC’ into google.

    Then you can choose whatever version suits your viewpoint…

  • carl marks

    Congal Claen
    tried that,Got a thing about four black and tans who “might” have been still alive when they were put into the furnace but no RIC men, I am genuinely interested but perhaps this is not the right forum for this as i don’t want to distract from the present situation.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi Carl,

    As your interested, I found this which suggests a less gory fate…

  • Congal Claen


  • carl marks

    babyface finlayson
    I think a lot of people need to come clean about what was done and why they done it, then the rest of us can decide on how we feel about it.
    Most Combatants will go for A) ‘this was our war, these killings were necessary and justified,’
    No matter where the”war” was most people who fight in them on any side think they were in the right, how many of the pilots who firebombed Dresden died of old age thinking they done the right thing (of course in every event there are honourable exceptions) and how many members of the various terror groups and here and the politicians who egged them on think to this day they done wrong.
    Dresden could be swopped for Hiroshima, My Lia, or any number of the terrible things that happened here.
    However would it not be a pleasant (if that’s the right word) if someone of importance in this place came out with,
    B) ‘we thought these killings were justified but we now know they were not. They were wasted lives’

  • carl marks

    Congal Claen
    thank you for the link.

  • tacapall

    What else could Adams say, there’s votes up for grabs and everyone else was playing to the gallery so Adams jumped on the bandwagon. Crocodile tears to some and progress to others, it just depends what side of the fence your on. Being apologetic about an avoidable death or deaths is something we are getting well used to in this corner of the world, it matters little though when all it means is, we’re moving on, so should you.

  • MrPMartin

    Many ex IRA members have been open and honest about their membership. Martin McGuinness, Gerry Kelly, Conor Murphy, Martina Anderson to name but a few so why doesn’t Gerry Adams?

    Fear of prosecution? Rubbish. Is he ashamed of being in the IRA? surely if he wasnt in the IRA, why does he get upset when he is accused of being in the IRA?

    didn’t he not want to be in the IRA?

    I was never a member of the ANC but if someone said I was, I wouldn’t be that upset. I’d only be upset if I thought there was something shameful in it.

  • MrPMartin

    what wonderful life did RoI achieve after independence? Same question goes for many ex colonies. Nations founded in bloodshed never truly economically or emotionally prosper for at least decades if not centuries. I was a ‘catholic’ in NI. I don’t remember being oppressed. Perhaps those who did claim to be oppressed happened to come from families or communities who were known for killing soldiers and policemen in cold blood and surprise surprise when soldiers and policemen give them a hard time.

    If you set about killing the nice policemen of Norway systemically, even the nice policeman and army of Norway would hassle you and yours.

    A lot of Provo nonsense about oppression and harassment sounds like burglar being hassled by those he stole from

  • “Many ex IRA members have been open and honest about their membership. Martin McGuinness, Gerry Kelly, Conor Murphy, Martina Anderson to name but a few so why doesn’t Gerry Adams?”

    McGuinness was given immunity by the Bloody Sunday Tribunal for admitting to membership during a two year period. He says he left in 1976.

    Kelly, Murphy & Anderson all served time and cannot be tried twice for the same thing.

    If they were IRA members outside these periods they would all be under orders by that organisation to tell no one of their membership (this information in the Green Book, freely available to read in the Internet).

  • Ulick,

    I know that and it makes sense from a secret organization. But there is a difference between not telling and lying. Adams’ continued lying makes him look hypocritical and foolish.

  • Kevsterino

    I have come to the conclusion that regardless of whether Gerry Adams ever says he was in the IRA, a member of the Army Council or the Officer Commanding in Belfast, it will never be sufficient to overcome the bitterness of those opposed to the existence, the ethos or the actions of the Provisional IRA.

    Those republicans who oppose the GFA and the peace process as a whole will also persist in hating him.

    I don’t see where he has anything whatsoever to gain from trying to reach out to either group. Any overture will be met with immediate and sincere contempt.

  • Cris Cross

    While Gerry Adams remains in denial mode, his credibility is shot to pieces (pun intended)
    He’s now become a lame duck and a liability to the Republican movement. Only a matter of time before the younger ‘cleaner’ generation of Republicans look to get rid.

  • SK

    “Why is murdering policemen in the 1920s OK, but so horrendous now? ”

    Back in 1920, machine-gunning GAA matches was viewed as ok, but horrendous now. Bet you still wear your poppy though.

    Gregory Campbell assured us on Nolan today that every act of violence ever perpetrated by either side is ultimately the IRA’s fault. This is the narrative that they want to push.

    They wish to be viewed as the innocent party, the victims of an unprovoked attack by a paramilitary group that simply came down with the rain one night. Any apology issued by the IRA would be exploited as a means of pushing that narrative. That’s why it shouldn’t be forthcoming.

  • carl marks

    Of course the narrative of unionist innocence will be pushed by unionists, we should be well used to that by now on this very blog over the last few weeks we have seen unionists and loyalists blaming the violence and disorder over the flegs on everybody but themselves, this is just an extension of what they have done throughout history.
    When Gusty Spence died a thread was opened by a unionist contributor to this site putting forward the quaint notion that the reason the newsletter didn’t report on his funeral because unionists where repulsed by terrorists and where above commenting on such things, and believe it or not even with all the evidence of unionist politicians collusion with loyalists the man actually seemed to believe what he was saying.
    I believe this is called Cognitive Dissidence. However anybody with the ability to read history books will know how they really behaved
    My point is that no matter what Adams or anyone else says, no matter what proof anybody produces this will continue.
    Peter refusing to talk about Clontibret and his actions with the UVF there, Trimble claims he didn’t meet Billy Wright in wrights capacity as a terror leader at Dumcree but won’t tell why he met him.
    I could go on about the Ulster resistance, the Third Farce and the Orange Volunteers.
    My point is that while Unionists live in a little shrinking world of their own, it is no reason for Nationalists to play the same game.
    We expect better from those who would claim to lead us.

  • Red Lion

    More shameless slippery antics from Gerry ‘Angelic’ Adams. Didn’t he try to get Gardai McCabes murderers (is it ok to now call them murderers, Gerry??) out of jail pretty much trying to say they were ‘combatants’ under GFA?

    Words fail as to odious and grotesque this is.

  • Cric

    The Guards were rather more neutral than the RUC. The RUC were an active combatant before the PIRA even existed.

    I don’t care for the IRA and I never have – but this situation currently has a whiff of blaming only one organisation – an organisation which didn’t really exist in any proper capacity until several years after the Troubles had begun. The RUC were one of the original combatants and in their political policing they were one of the main catalysts for the modern conflict – and they should be remembered as such.

  • galloglaigh

    They wish to be viewed as the innocent party

    Marty left the Provos in ’74

    Gerry was never in the Provos

    And Peter and Ian left the hall when the guns were bought

    Aye dead on hi

  • galloglaigh


    They will be. We should all as a society receive an apology from David Cameron for the RUC’s behaviour. They were never a police force, and never deserved the George Cross.

  • @Mr Marks,

    Based on what many people have said and written about Spence’s political views in his latter years I can well believe that he personally thought that the loyalist terrorists murdered many innocent victims, even if his fellow CLMC members didn’t agree with him.

  • saoirsemeansfreedom

    [Play the ball, not the man – Mods]

    Has he [Andrew Lynch] ever told a fib or changed his mind in the normal evolution of ageing? Does he not think that it’s readers are capabe of coming to their own conclusions?

    The German apology to Jews, the British apology re the Six Counties, the US apology to the Native Americans were regarded as ground breaking statements, yet Gerry Adams’ mea culpa is shot down by this mealy mouthed hack.

    Surely we can’t be forever tethered to the past by this bantanweight analyst and his cohorts.

  • aquifer

    So the tough guy gave us a few words, he hopes enough to prevent the voters of Louth sickening of him.

    And even yet the tabloids listen, even as we know to plug our ears.

    A few words from the Poet Durcan:

    “”The stomach of my soul seizes up and I wonder if the neighbours can hear me as I retch,” he said. ” . . . all those hundreds and hundreds of unique, individual human beings murdered, many of them much more interesting and decent people than you or I, Gerry Adams. All of them dumped into the trashcan of history, their rotting arms and legs hanging out of bins everywhere, on estates and on seashores and on derelict bogs.”

  • BarneyT

    Folks, I am midway through reading the posts and I have to ask at this stage, does anyone have actual proof that Gerry is lying about his IRA past? Would a media savvy and cute political machine allow this “lie” to remain and fester? If it is proven or even if he admits it, it will destroy SF whilst Gerry is at the helm. Would they let that happen?

    Clearly he saw himself sitting on the political wing of the republican branch he aligns with and that could just be the case, regardless of how cosy his relationship was with the PIRA. SF membership is not universally synonymous with PIRA membership (despite the frequent overlaps), just as Gilmores past does not imply his direct membership of the Official IRA.

    A political representative of the IRA would be entitled to convey any message from their military wing or a retrospective apology on their behalf. Both SF and the IRA were two components of provisional Irish Republicanism and collectively represented that branch of republicanism. PIRA has gone away therefore an apology can only come from its remaining political wing.

  • Scáth Shéamais

    The German apology to Jews, the British apology re the Six Counties, the US apology to the Native Americans were regarded as ground breaking statements, yet Gerry Adams’ mea culpa is shot down by this mealy mouthed hack.

    On whose behalf was Gerry apologising?

  • carl marks

    tmitch57 (profile)
    31 January 2013 at 1:26 am

    @Mr Marks

    Please call me Carl,

    I read Gustys Book and you may be right, However the phrase “innocent victims” is open tyo interrpatation.
    I have just listened to Arlene Forster on talkback, She when challenged about the murders carried out by the RUC of unarmed catholics chose to avoid the question.
    So you will excuse me if i believe that unionist outrage in this is not based on morality but rather based on the need for propaganda.
    I will take unionists and there fellow travellers seriously in this matter when one of them comes out with a no ifs no buts apoligy for the violence that there side (this includes the loyalists, army, police, UDR) engaged in.
    That is not to say that i think nationlists should not take the high ground and come out with one right away!

  • saoirsemeansfreedom

    Sheamais, my take is that he was apologising for all violent acts/deaths by Republicans.

  • carlota martinez

    Red Lion at 10.15
    Your comment raises an interesting point.
    Gerry McCabe was not murdered. The individuals who were ultimately incarcerated as a result of his death were originally charged with capital murder (no such offence exists in the northern jurisdiction). During the trial this charge was not proceeded with and the Director of Public Prosecutions accepted from the accused a plea of guilty to the charge of Manslaughter.
    Thus the DPP accepted that there was no intent to kill on the part of the accused.
    So, RL, in answer to your question : it is not OK to call them murderers.

  • carl marks

    carlota Martinez
    Sorry Carlota if Garda Mc Cabe was a member of my family or my friend I don’t think I would be happy with what I would see as hair splitting.
    Maybe the law would disagree with me but then the law has been called a Ass on many a occasion.

  • babyface finlayson

    carl marks
    “I have just listened to Arlene Forster on talkback,”
    I thought I heard her saying to a caller that ‘you’ meaning nationalists I think “got your apology for Bloody Sunday”.
    I find that truly depressing. As an elected representative for all of us does she not feel that wrongs done to nationalists are wrongs done to our whole society?
    ‘You got your apology we want ours! ‘
    I can understand that attitude coming from victims of a particular atrocity, but is it too much to hope that our politicians could see themselves as representing all of us,not just their own tribe. Apparently it is.

  • carl marks

    babyface finlayson.
    Depressing is the word,
    buts lets not forget that many of our polticians have a, Mote,Beam,Eye, vision problem.

  • Mick Fealty


    May be so, but she’s right though. I’ve amended the post above accordingly.

  • Congal Claen

    Hi SK,

    “Back in 1920, machine-gunning GAA matches was viewed as ok, but horrendous now. Bet you still wear your poppy though.”

    Quite a few things bundled together there SK. Firstly, machine-gunning wasn’t, as far as I know, a main aim of the security forces at that time. Whereas gunning down policemen was a main aim of the Ra/Volunteers. When Dick McKee asked members of his squad to take things to the next level ie murder, the majority chose not to. That isn’t the majority of ordinary members of the public. It was the majority of the volunteers under his command. However, looking back now from afar, some people ie you, think it was ok. I think that is lazy intellectually and morally repugnant. But, also likely to lead to reciprocation in the future.

    As for the poppy, I wear mine with pity. Glad that I wasn’t part of the same senseless slaughter…