Gerry Adams: It’s not that the public cannot tolerate a lie, noble or otherwise…

There’s an important detail I don’t want to end the week without marking for future reference. It’s Mike Nesbitt’s grilling of the Sinn Fein Chair Declan Kearney on The View last night over the ongoing issue of Gerry Adams:

The critical point comes at 7.22 when Nesbitt is asked whether a public appeal will suffice for information about the whereabouts of the seven bodies of The Disappeared that remain unrecovered:

Nesbitt: Well, it’s been said, and it’s been said, and it’s been said. What we need is actions. What we need is concrete leads to get to the remains of those bodies. Now Declan talks about leadership, and I have to say that if we want to move these things and deal with the past we do need leadership. We do need honest leadership.

We talk about the need for respect, but actually in the Belfast Agreement it talks about the need for mutual trust. How can unionists trust republicans when Gerry Adams says, “I know nothing about Jean McConville. I was never in the IRA.” And I notice in the documentary that Billy McKee the veteran republican challenged Gerry Adams, “come and say that to my face”?

Carruthers: So Mr Adams position is not credible?

Nesbitt: No it’s not. Neither is Martin McGuinness’ when he goes to the Oxford debate this week and he says “we never targeted civilians”. Jean McConville was a civilian. Columba McVeigh was a civilian. The Disappeared, La Mon, Abercorn, Kingsmills, on and on, no warning bombs.

None of this is easy for Mr Kearney to field, not least since he was the poor critter who had his name appended to that peremptory internal inquiry back in January 2010 which gave his party leader a clean bill of health over his preknowledge about Liam Adams’ membership of the party.

This is the nub of their problem. It’s not plausible any more to believe or suppose that Gerry Adams was not in the IRA. Whether he was, or was not is actually not relevant. It’s the perception that he has to lie about that matters.

As Eamonn McCann delicately and sympathetically notes, it is this seeming ‘need’ to embrace duplicity that’s driving some former Provos almost round the twist:

…his embarkation on the road to the 1998 agreement did not represent a betrayal of the movement but an attempt to bring the movement into alignment with the consciousness of the people in whose name the struggle was being conducted.

There was nothing inherently ignoble about this. But it required a break with the ideas which had powered the struggle.

Adams’ problem was that he couldn’t spell this out, not at the time anyway, to those who had embraced traditional republicanism and in many cases had suffered mightily in its name.

Democracy makes liars and hypocrites of everyone who participates in it. And at this time of huge transparency, publics across the world are making demands of politicians to be consistent and principled in ways perhaps that they themselves might struggle to follow in their own real lives.

It’s not that the public cannot tolerate a lie, noble or otherwise, so much that when the lie eventually runs out of road it can wreak unpredictable damage. Damage to the leader, and in this case the party which has given him such loyal and unquestioning support throughout.

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  • Mc Slaggart

    “It’s not plausible any more to believe or suppose that Gerry Adams was not in the IRA.”

    I know someone who blew up part of Omagh royal arms muse as part of a republican operation who was not allowed to be part of the organisation.

    The fact is he may never have actually took the steps to join.

  • sean treacy

    perhaps Mike would have more credibility if he and his party would cease all contact with the political wing of the Shankill butchers.UUP joint campaigns with Winkie and co.sort of undermine his moral superiority.

  • Pete Baker

    Mick

    Here are some questions I noted about the results of that internal Sinn Féin inquiry at the time.

    And a classic response about Liam Adams’ Sinn Féin activity in Andersonstown from Gerry Kelly on The Politics Show in Jan 2010

    “Let’s be logical about this. If Gerry Adams went in Louth and spoke to his brother and told him to leave [the party], why would he not do it in Andersonstown?”

    And from that same post, the first appearance of the ‘very busy’ defence of Gerry Adams’ ignorance of his brother’s involvement in Sinn Féin in Andersonstown – “From 2000 and for a number of years”, according to Sinn Fein’s own account.

    The BBC’s Gareth Gordon asked: “How could you not have known? You’re the MP for West Belfast, that’s your power base?

    Mr Adams replied: “Well, I can only tell you I don’t know every member of the party in west Belfast. I’m also a very busy activist. A lot of this happened at a time of intense, hyper activity.

    “But I didn’t know. That’s it. People will make up their own mind on that and decide on their own position.”

    Do read the whole thing, btw.

    But, as Gerry Kelly recently admitted,

    You know, I [still] don’t know enough about the detail of this…

    And, as someone advised just the other day

    [Gerry Adams on the BBC/RTÉ programme The Disappeared] “I learnt a long time ago, if you don’t ask, you can’t tell.”

    Indeed…

  • Zig70

    What do people want? Gerry to hang himself on a unionist alter. Catch a grip. Nationalists are quite pleased that he sticks a toe in unionist trite inversion of blame. After all it was all fine before the troubles. History didn’t exist before the troubles. Call an amnesty and then we’ll maybe get some truth and deprive a few lawyers of a payday into the bargain.

  • Charles_Gould

    This whole issue of Gerry Adams saying he is not in the IRA needs to be cleared up.

  • Mick Fealty

    Zig, to badly paraphrase Pastor Niemöller…

    First they came for Trimble,
    Then they came for Paisley…

    Do you really think a man who has been shaker in politics since 1972 is so guaranteed to escape his own political reckoning?

    The peace process may well have saved Robinson, and it may yet save Adams… But I’m keeping my political money firmly in my pocket…

  • ArdoyneUnionist

    Kearney must have went to the same media school as Gerry “I was never in the IRA” Adams. Both say a lot with out actually saying anything, and continually filibuster. But it all plays well to the shinner/provo faithful.

  • Zig70

    Well I think we all know our own truths of what happened 40yrs ago, right or wrong. Gerry isn’t going to hang himself, why would he. My view is that he certainly won’t go under pressure and he may well retire after the pressure fades. I would say he is more insulated from the media than Trimble or Paisley. In addition to that I believe he thinks he has done right by the people of West Belfast and republicanism as a whole and has plenty close to him that will reinforce it.
    His phrase that he didn’t have any part to play in the abduction of Jean McConville could be read at different levels. As could his Never in the IRA. I doubt Nesbitt would take anything else McKee says on face value except when it suits him. That’s the whole problem with this debate, everyone has an angle. In the end the folks throwing stones look like they are throwing stones, Nationalist will watch that View clip and think ‘I really don’t like Nesbitt’

  • Sp12

    “First they came for Trimble,
    Then they came for Paisley…”

    Who are ‘they’ in this instance?
    Do ‘they’ have the options of defecting to the DUP or plotting a coup to effect the same conclusion your use of ellipsis would suggest?

    “Nationalist will watch that View clip and think ‘I really don’t like Nesbitt’”

    I’ve felt that way when seeing footage of him scrounge for support in a dreary car park in Carrick. Now he doesn’t even register.

  • Mick Fealty

    Sp12,

    ‘They’ being, for want of a less imperfect term, the people who vote for politicians…

    Here’s Nesbitt at his most incontrovertible:

    Tonight it happens to be about Gerry Adams. And its about that preamble to the Good Friday Agreement that said this is about mutual trust.

    Where is the mutual trust?

    When Billy McKee says ‘tell him to come to me and say to my face that he was never in the IRA’, I believe Billy McKay, not Gerry Adams.

    And that’s not a good place to to be if we’re going to have the leadership to be in a position where we can deal with the past.

  • sean treacy

    Why the yellow card? I state some irrefutable facts about UUP PUP links and am censured.Meanwhile Gerry Adams is viscously attacked day after day on the hearsay “evidence” of a handful of bitter ,twisted dissos who never forgave him for bringing the conflict to an end.

  • cynic2

    Bringing the war to and end when the IRA was beaten deserves recognition but it doesn’t excuse 2500 murders> There needs to be an account

  • Mick Fealty

    We don’t do ‘executions’ let alone ‘leg jobs’, but we do have rules. Suggest you read them. Bottom of the page.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    The truth will out. In the meantime we can enjoy watching Adams squirm. It’s the least he deserves.

  • sean treacy

    “Don’t make personal attacks on the subjects of posts on this site” I wonder who would be more guilty of breaching that rule?

    Me with my occasional jibe at uncle Tom figures or you with your thousands of vitriolic anti Adams posts?

    There are only 2 courts which could possibly disregard the eviden

  • Sp12

    “‘They’ being, for want of a less imperfect term, the people who vote for politicians…”

    I don’t see it, there’s no comparable internal move against Adams nor defections to the ‘other party’ for sake of principle, ambition or political expediency that marked Trimble and Paisley’s respective downfalls.
    McGuinness’ willingness to publicly defend Adams recently and denounce dissidents is in stark contrast to Unionism’s willingness to wield the long knife and remain silent.
    It demonstrates that a ‘movement’ can stay on course, and indeed as we have all seen, stay ‘on message’ much more so than what is essentially ‘showbusiness for ugly people’ and their sons. (Has anyone checked out Poots Jr recently?).

    The other big difference, ironically, is that Adams has ‘exited the stage south’ as it were. McGuinness is the face of SF in the north, removing Adams as leader because he is damaging SF’s chances in the south and replacing him with someone like Mary Lou, would I believe, sail too close to the heresy of partitionist thinking for many in SF.

    Most importantly of all, I dare say SF are aiming for Adams to be Tanaiste for the 1916 commemorations. They’ll ride out a few choppy months and car crash TV interviews for that.

  • looneygas

    Sean Treacy,
    I don’t know if it’s Mr. Fealty who you occasionally jibe about being an Uncle Tom, but I think the term “house nigger” (as opposed to field nigger) applies.

  • HammerTime

    Good God have you ever witnessed as much bluffing, ducking and diving of questions as by Declan Kearney in that interview. Pathetic from SF.

  • OK so we have a kind of consensus that Gerry Adams is not exactly honest about his Past.
    In terms of his “membership” …there has been a cat and mouse game for more than forty years. To be honest, it has always amused me.
    Of course that unconvincing denial does Adams no favours when he denies knowing anything about the very serious case of Jean McConville.
    Put bluntly “I was never in the IRA…and know nothing about that case” carries less weight than “I was in the IRA …and know nothing about that case.

    But I dont think we can condemn Gerry Adams for his lack of candour when we ourselves are less than candid about our own Pasts.
    I have a view on whether “he was or wasn’t”
    So have readers of Slugger.
    Id be surprised if many of us had a different view than in 1998.
    Anybody really going to say “well I thought this in 1998 but Ive changed my mind in 2013”
    Do the testimonies of Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price really change what we thought.
    Of course this brings Jean McConville into the equation. But really it was known she was murdered by IRA in 1972….and we went into the polling stations to vote YES anyway.
    And I was voting SF in general at that time.
    Did I not care about Jean McConville? Or her children?
    Yes of course I cared but I cared about a lot of stuff and I cared about the future my own children will have.

    Of course Adams is more unpopular than his Party.
    and there is an understandable if not very nice elation of his critics that he is at last cornered and that his defeat will be humiliating.
    and indeed its entirely legitimate for his political opponents to put the boot in.
    But its a sobering thought that SDLP and Journos brought Adams and SF into the process.
    We all benefited from that.
    and SF benefitted more. And I think that some of the ill-feeling detracts from the fact that too many people including SDLP had a script that assumed SF would be the junior nationalist party.
    So now the gloves are off.
    But we are too forgiving of ourselves here.
    Are we really trying to convince ourselves that we didnt know.

    But if Adams goes…and he probably will….on entirely legitimate health and age grounds,,I think that still presents a problem.
    Too many people seem to want it both ways.
    There IS a Coalition.
    Sinn Fein is needed by DUP and Alliance.
    But Adams is no different from SF.
    Too many people want to cherry pick SF.
    The professors in Conflict Resolution want to talk to the ex-prisoners to hear their story and feel their pain.
    The SF mayor of Belfast is lionised and re-tweeted by Belfasts artistic community.. ..not to mention his eight (count them!!) chaplains and his very own Poet Laureate.
    Tragedy and Comedy all adding up to an Inglorious Farce.
    We bought into it.
    We cant escape the responsibility.

    We either accept it or reject it. There can be no in-between.

  • GEF

    “The peace process may well have saved Robinson, and it may yet save Adams… ”

    Indeed Mick, likewise this could be the main reason why Adams or McGuinness can not be prosecuted at present for any past crimes of the IRA.

    “Senior members of Sinn Féin, some of whom, according to both the British and Irish governments, have sat on the Army Council, together with IRA members not known to be involved in illegal activities, have been effectively immune from prosecution in recent years in order to enable progress in the peace process.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IRA_Army_Council

  • Mick Fealty

    FJH,

    My own view is that this is a purely political matter, that will be settled between SF and its electorate. As I’ve said above, electorates are fickle and they don’t sign up to parties unconditionally.

    Consider the two PMs who were elected in May and June of 1997. Long gone (if not entirely forgotten) the pair of them.

    Why? Because the electorate is not the chorus in a Greek tragedy whom you can pay to turn up and do their duty every couple or three years. They possess the power to hire and fire.

    As I said in my piece for the SBP, Adams cannot be deposed by rivals in his current position. He’s too powerful and well dug in. He himself has to decide if and when to walk.

    At the end of the day he’s an alpha male in a small and comradely circle of alphas of nearly thirty years standing.

    I doubt very much that he (or they) will let go easily.

  • GEF

    Me thinks the one party which could benefit at the next election from this recent spotlight being put on Adams, and McGuinness’s association in or with the IRA may be SDLP.

    “Last night Alex Attwood of the SDLP said “no one will believe he doesn’t know” who killed Patsy Gillespie. He added: “Martin McGuinness has for years been portrayed as a republican leader reaching out to others. Last night the fuller character of Martin McGuinness was on display.”

    http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/martin-mcguinness-refuses-to-condemn-ira-human-bomb-attack-in-1990-dubbed-the-work-of-satan-by-catholic-bishop-29733940.html&sa=U&ei=xBd-UsqpH8zH7AbN9YHABw&ved=0CCUQqQIoADAA&sig2=goFD_94eoQ_Mk7dULMOj-g&usg=AFQjCNGqsBlIyIMwkrWUG9Ol9vjj-ANwuQ

  • sean treacy

    Sorry about my previous post ending mid stream.Reminds me of the rebel radio station where the announcer states that the forces of reaction are at the gate before trailing off in incoherence.The point I was trying to make was that only a Diplock court or the even less transparent slugger justice system would dam me on the available evidence.my rule breaking pales into insignificance compared to others on this site.When I tried to post this comment I was blocked on 4 occasions but as I began to admit defeat an early draught if incomplete version of my post slipped past whoever was manning micks watchtowers at that particular moment .No doubt the errant guard wiil face “commandant ” Micks wrath today.

  • Mick Fealty

    It’s only a yellow… To remind you to make an argument when rather getting out a little of those think never would be missed… 😐

  • sean treacy

    Mick ,could you please explain what your post of 12:58pm actually means? Without joking you have me completely baffled!

  • “Put bluntly “I was never in the IRA…and know nothing about that case” carries less weight than “I was in the IRA …and know nothing about that case.”

    @fjh,

    I am prepared to believe that Brendan Hughes was telling the truth when he said that Jean McConville was a British informer; I am not prepared to believe any of Adams’s versions of the truth. Which is partly why I’ve never wasted my money buying any of his fictionalized autobiographies.

  • GEF

    “I am prepared to believe that Brendan Hughes was telling the truth when he said that Jean McConville was a British informer;”

    Funny informer taking “pity on an British soldier injured during one of the street battles that characterised the Troubles. ‘My ma put a cushion under his head,’ says Mr McConville. ‘My ma would have helped anyone, that’s just the kind of person she was. ‘That’s where it all started to go wrong for us.'”

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2487229/I-nightmares-mothers-murder-Son-IRA-victim-Jean-McConville-says-violent-abduction–witnessed–torments-40-years-on.html#ixzz2kAf54gVn
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2487229/I-nightmares-mothers-murder-Son-IRA-victim-Jean-McConville-says-violent-abduction–witnessed–torments-40-years-on.html#ixzz2kAeuMcBN
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  • FuturePhysicist

    Nesbitt did well here in the interview, he certainly boxed a lot cleverer than his bust up against McCrea. I certainly don’t think Morrison did, he would be dwarfed by the Gerry Kellys and John O’Dowds within his party. Why did Morrison quit politics anyway?

  • GEF

    One senses the media are saying to the President of SF.
    “”We are not going away on this one Gerry.””

    “Jean McConville ‘killer’ is named”

    The man who allegedly shot Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville was yesterday named as former Sinn Fein councillor and Belfast IRA commander Pat McGeown.

    http://www.newsletter.co.uk/news/regional/jean-mcconville-killer-is-named-1-5670723

    “WE name the man who killed Jean McConville”
    http://www.sundayworld.com/top-stories/northern-ireland/top-provo-pulled-trigger-on-mrs-mcconville

  • BarneyT

    I don’t really know here but do we sometimes choose when to regard republicanism as shrewd and savvy and at other time lapse on that view. SF were and are successful and is there not a possibility that Gerry was deliberately kept outside of the IRA bubble to galvanise the truth rather than protect a lie? We might look back and come to realise he was right on the membership issue and I mean signed up and irrefutably active. Personally I doubt it as that “sacrifice” has given many momentum within SF. What if though.

  • Dixie Elliott

    sean treacy do these Uncle Toms tell as many lies as Uncle Gerry I wonder?

    In fact I remember when Ed Moloney wrote, in A Secret History of the IRA that Gerry with Fr. Alex Reid in tow was seeking a way out of the war in 1986, the uproar from shinners that it was all the lies of an anti-Republican Journalist was deafening ….

    And there you have it…. this week on Sunday Sequence…

    “The 1st seeds of a peace process were sown by myself and Alex Reid as far back as 1976, so I’m long term in my view…”

    Poor Ed he was only ten years out.

    I wonder what else Ed wrote about in those days? Oh yes thats right, in 2000 he wrote that… FRU and Brian Nelson saved Gerry’s life when the UDA wanted to attach a limpet mine to his armoured car in May 1987.

    And what did the author of the recent De Silva Report tell Gerry? Ah yes that it is in the report that FRU and Brian Nelson….

    And did Gerry say thats nonsense?

    Nope…not a word.

  • fordprefect

    McSlaggart
    “The fact is he may never have actually took the steps to join”.
    Do you mean like the seven alleged members of SF, whose names Adams gave to the cops in 2005, in relation to the killing of Robert McCartney? (Note the year, as it wasn’t until 2007 that he made a statement about his brother, and then amended that in 2009). Most of those seven never took any steps to join SF, and, Adams’s statement led to their friends and acquaintances getting arrested as well (most of whom weren’t even in the area, never mind the bar) when the killing occurred. A lot of those are still going through the courts for wrongful arrest etc.

  • fordprefect

    In N/R/C areas/circles it is a long standing joke, Adams’s denials of ever being in the IRA. I know we’ll get the argument that if he admitted it now, he’d be open to court proceedings, but that bollocks because if that was the case why did the Brits save his life on so many occasions?

  • fordprefect

    Zig70
    “Call an amnesty and then we’ll maybe get some truth and deprive a few lawyers of a payday into the bargain”.
    Are you trying to be funny? If the bearded one saw himself in the mirror he would deny it was him (to himself). You see it’s okay for the lower orders to admit their involvement in anything as long as the “great one” is left alone to carry on his life by churning out works of fiction and travelling the world getting private health care for every complaint that might afflict him and, of course, making as much money as he can for himself.

  • fordprefect

    Zig70
    “Nationalist will watch that View clip and think ‘I really don’t like Nesbitt’
    They could also, like me, watch that clip and think “I really don’t like Kearney”.

  • fordprefect

    Sean Treacy
    “Meanwhile Gerry Adams is viscously attacked day after day on the hearsay “evidence” of a handful of bitter ,twisted dissos who never forgave him for bringing the conflict to an end”.
    Wrong! I am in no way, shape or form what you call a “twisted disso”, I am (and always have been, and always will be an Irish Republican). Gerry Adams and his ilk can (and have for ages) now be called constitutional nationalists and if one was a little unkind, unionists. You mean Adams hand-in hand with his masters, the British, brought the conflict to an end.

  • fordprefect

    Sean Treacy
    “The point I was trying to make was that only a Diplock court or the even less transparent slugger justice system would dam me on the available evidence.”
    You mean the Diplock courts that your party now supports?

  • fordprefect

    Future Physicist
    ” I certainly don’t think Morrison did, he would be dwarfed by the Gerry Kellys and John O’Dowds within his party. Why did Morrison quit politics anyway”?
    Are you for real? The only way Gerry Kelly or O’Dowd would dwarf anyone, would be by their height! It would most certainly not be by their towering intellect. They are the same as the rest of the sheep in SF, factory produced “speak your weight” machines that SF churn out.

  • GEF

    Dare say these were the type of people who Gerry adams did not associate with when he visited his Irish American friends on his trips to the USA as President of SF?

    “James ‘Whitey’ Bulger: Boston mob boss who sent IRA guns given life sentence”

    “But in September 1984 a shipment of weapons was seized by the Irish authorities. Shortly after the Valhalla returned to Boston McIntyre disappeared and his body was not found until 2000.

    An associate testified that Bulger tortured and then shot McIntyre in the head over allegations that he was an FBI informer.”

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/world-news/james-whitey-bulger-boston-mob-boss-who-sent-ira-guns-given-life-sentence-29756177.html

  • @GEF,

    When I said that I was prepared to believe Hughes version of the McConville murder, I was not asserting that it was the truth. I simply don’t know. The trouble is that the only people likely to know are all suspect in that they have ulterior motives, The McConville children want to protect the good name of their mother. Hughes wanted to justify a murder even as he blamed Adams for it. What I was asserting was that I have no belief in anything that comes out of Adams’s mouth, other than possibly a remark about the weather.

  • fordprefect

    Tmitch57
    Even if you were standing on the street with Adams and he said it was raining, I bet whoever was standing with him would put their hand out just to make sure it was raining, as opposed to Adams pissing all over them. Seriously (I was serious about that last remark), I know and get on well with a lot of SF people and even they titter and laugh and put their hand over their mouth to suppress their hilarity at his constant denials of ever being in the IRA.

  • Alias

    “I know and get on well with a lot of SF people and even they titter and laugh and put their hand over their mouth to suppress their hilarity at his constant denials of ever being in the IRA.”

    They’re obviously not concerned about honesty in public life then…

  • sean treacy

    Mick ,I doubt the “damage to the party”that you Baker,Elliot,and assorted unionists,Dissos and general cranks so ardently wish for hasn’t materialised.Latest poll in the Sindo has SF up 2 points to 21 percent.As I said weeks ago what a waste of all those man hours! Keep it up and we will have a SF government in no time!

  • Barnshee

    “I began to admit defeat an early draught if incomplete version ”

    Close the door/window to avoid the “draught”

  • sean treacy

    Barnshee, you are the second unionist in as many weeks to correct my spelling. Must be great to be educationally superior as well as morally superior to those thick ignorant fenians