Gerry Adams: A leader whose basket of unwashed laundry is given to bursting open in public…

Okay, whilst we wait to hear whether the Sinn Fein leader is to be released, charged or held for another night and day of questioning, here’s three items worth highlighting on the political aspects of this:

Malachi O’Doherty

Where Adams can suffer is in the Irish Republic. He shifted his political base there and took a seat in the Dublin parliament, the Dáil. For years his party has relentlessly increased its support, yet its northern and southern expressions are growing apart. One irony, if he fell, might be that Sinn Féin would be partitioned, effectively evidence that partition is organic and inevitable in Ireland.

Pat Leahy on Prime Time (11 mins in)… is by far the most sober analysis of the southern situation… It won’t affect the lovers or the haters of the party, but it is those floating voters who want to hear what the party has to say about austerity to whom it may make a difference…

And finally Vixens With Convictions

Sinn Fein’s attempts to deflect by statements such as Mc Guinness’ “dark side of policing”, and Mc Donald’s “politically contrived” comments, could leave the party open to the accusation that they are attempting to use political interference in the due process of law and order. Southern voters are happy to vote for the party on the rise because they are perceived to have turned over a new leaf with regards to the past.

The reminder that some key figures in Sinn Féin not only have a past, but don’t appreciate attempts to raise it is unpalatable for many. At some point, Sinn Féin members will be put on the spot and asked if they support a thorough murder investigation into the death of a single mother of ten. It’s a conundrum they’d rather not answer.

In serious terms we’re sort of in another Flight MH370 scenario with lots of people basing their assumptions on a lot of known unknowns and a fair amount of unknown unknowns. It’s going to nard to gauge what impact, if any, this has on the political game in the south until we start to see some unwind.

An arrest is all it is right now… In the meantime the party’s research must be telling them loud and clear that they are on a threshold of a huge breakthrough in the Republic, their abiding problem being a northern leader whose basket of unwashed laundry is given periodically to bursting open in public…

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  • cynic2

    Last week on public order Pat Sheehan was adamant that the law must be enforced vigorously against Loyalist marchers. No discretion. No exceptions.

    What a difference a week makes

  • Kensei

    Malchi’s article is nothing more than an expression of wish fulfilment; there isn’t even a poll to suggest the impact in the South at the moment, and absolutely no indication that SF is likely to partition with or without Gerry Adams. If SF make a breakthrough despite this, pulling up the past will look like a busted flush in the South.

    It could have a huge impact though, especially if eh is charged. But a little too early to call.

  • Paulk

    Well according to BBC the PSNI are applying for an extension for further questioning, looks like the PSNI are about to make their play…

  • SDLP supporter

    This is very high stakes stuff. I wonder if Ivor Bell has said something?

  • Paulk

    SDLP Supporter I would imagine they would need to have more than that surely? Does that not simply amount to his (Bell’s) word against his (Adams)?

  • megatron

    “Sinn Féin members will be put on the spot and asked if they support a thorough murder investigation into the death of a single mother of ten. It’s a conundrum they’d rather not answer”

    I think they have answered numerous (100s possibly) over the past days, weeks, years and decades. Everyone says a thorough investigation is required. GA WROTE TO THE PSNI FOR GODS SAKE TO HELP WITH THE INVESTIGATION.

    Who makes this stuff up?

  • Mick Fealty

    The significance of Bell may not be what he said but that he’s been charged. Those commentators who say that Adams cannot be seem to be ignoring that. If Bell, why not Adams?

  • zep

    I agree with Kensei, there is little indication at the moment of how this will affect public support for the party down south – Adams is a known quantity in this regard anyway. I’m not saying it is expected but it’s hardly a surprise, is it. It is the likes of McDonald who have more to lose, having hitherto managed to keep just enough distance between themselves and the party’s past, but even then I find it hard to imagine the RoI electorate being tuned in enough to events ‘up here’ for it to set SF back too much.

  • gendjinn

    Is there really anyone who thinks the preponderance of evidence does not put Adams, Bell, et al in the frame for the McConville murder? Whether the police have enough evidence to prove beyond a reasonable doubt remains to be seen.

    Whether or not McConville was “collaborating*” with the British is absolutely irrelevant. She was the widowed mother of 10, unless she was pointing a gun and about to fire at someone, there is no justification whatsoever for murdering her. That the PIRA chose to disappear her demonstrates that they knew this at the time.

    If the police have the evidence in hand then I hope Adams, Bell and the whole lot of them are convicted. The shame will be that their punishment will be capped at two years.

    On the other hand, if the police do not charge Adams, and do not present sufficient hard evidence at trial to support a conviction then it will be clear that this was a purely politically motivated arrest, and the charges of a dark side to the PSNI will be substantiated. If that is the case the police have committed an evil act, dragging the McConville family through their trauma, again.

    * Or whatever other BS the PIRA wants to use to justify their murder.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I’m interested whether nationalists would agree with O’Docherty that northern SF voters of the “reward SF for bringing peace” variety (who presumably also send cakes to Broadmoor in gratitude to the now peaceful Peter Sutcliffe) will remain unperturbed by the McConville case? Makes sense to me – they always knew Adams was IRA leader, have taken that on board and prefer to focus on the ending of the Troubles not what Republican did during them. (Which is a bit like writing a review of a grand prix which primarily discusses the way the driver returned the car to the pit lane at the end).

    But I’m interested, does O’Docherty’s apercu ring true with nationalist Sluggerites? Or might some be put off Adams over this?

  • Brian Walker

    Adrian Kavanagh’s analysis in the Irish Political Forum..

    The Irish Independent-Millward Brown poll (28th April 2014) estimated party support levels as follows (and relative to the previous such poll): Fine Gael 25% (down 4%), Fianna Fail 23% (up 1%), Sinn Fein 21% (up 1%), Labour Party 6% (NC), Green Party, Independents and Others 25% (up 2%). My constituency-level analysis of these poll figures estimates that party seat levels, should such national support trends be replicated in an actual general election, would be as follows: Fianna Fail 37, Fine Gael 49, Sinn Fein 33, Labour 0, Independents, Green Party and Others 39.
    Based on these seat estimates, a Fine Gael-Labour (combined seat level of 49 seats) would fall far short of the number of seats required to form a government (79 seats); while a potential Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein alliance (combined seat level of 70 seats) would come somewhat closer to this 79 seat target. To have a sufficient number of seats required to command a majority in Dail Eireann (79 seats in a 158 seat Dail, assuming a deputy from another party/grouping takes on the Ceann Comhairle role), a Fianna Fail-Sinn Fein (or Fine Gael-Labour) alliance would need the support of at least nine (thirty) or more, TDs from the independent ranks or from another political grouping to be able to form a government. A Fine Gael and Sinn Fein pairing would also have a sufficient number of seats (combined seat level of 82 seats) to command a majority in Dail Eireann, but such an alliance looks to be unlikely in the present political climate in any course. Ultimately, based on these numbers a Fianna Fail-Fine Gael coalition government would be the only viable two-party coalition and such an alliance would command a very strong Dail majority (with a combined seat level of 86 seats). The reason why such two-party coalitions would appear to be difficult prospects could of course be attributed to yet another very strong showing (in support and seat estimates terms) for the different groupings associated with the Independent and Others grouping

    I assume there will be a bit of a protest, “ anyone but the government” UKIP factor in the euros and locals on 23 May, although less for SF which is well established in the Dail, more with regard to Others.

    Why are voters growing keener on SF while distancing from the armed struggle and so newly warm to the Brits? (They may be different voters of course). But a familiar question, tackled this morning by David McKittrick in the Independent. This is a more cautious assessment than Malachi’s “Adams is Finished “ in the Guardian.
    Some of the more conventional parties privately admit that it has attracted a number of impressive younger members, including a couple of possible future party leaders. This means a Sinn Fein without Adams is no longer unthinkable.
    The McConville arrest is not the only hit which Adams has suffered over the past year, for there have been other potentially damaging episodes. When his brother was last year given a 16-year sentence for raping his daughter 30 years earlier, Adams said that when he became aware of the abuse, years afterwards, he had confronted his brother and warned the family. But he came under attack from critics who said he should have alerted police years before he did.

    Yet the striking thing is that so far none of these episodes have brought about any faltering in Sinn Fein’s apparently inexorable political rise. In the south that rise has been fuelled not so much by any strong nationalist fervour as by the party’s skill in voicing the resentments of those hardest hit by the ongoing recession, and by its challenges to the prevailing politics of austerity.

  • cynic2

    “there is little indication at the moment of how this will affect public support for the party down south ”

    I dont care. A woman was murdered. Ten children orphaned. The investigation must goes where it goes – for the sake of Jean McConville and the other 2500 murdered by PIRA

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    “Why are voters growing keener on SF while distancing from the armed struggle and so newly warm to the Brits?”
    Fascinating isn’t it – but I think it makes sense. It’s because there are two parallel shifts going on, I’d hypothesise:
    (1) SF’s popularity in the Rep of I is a lot about protest against a failed system, against the moneyed elite – and only a little about its traditional ultra-nationalist (and in Ireland, Brit-hating) agenda. That same “standing up for the least fortunate” wave is seen in many countries around Europe and is of a piece with anti-banker feeling and even anti-immigrant feeling in many countries. It’s about how ordinary people suffered in the financial crisis and apparently others suffered less – and resentment against those others.
    (2) Making some kind of peace with modern Britain comes as part of a quite separate narrative, which in turn has 2 strands: a) peace process – this is part of a historic way forward for Ireland that all can agree to; b) coming clean about the fact Irish people in reality find a lot in common with modern (as opposed to traditional or reactionary) British values. It’s been a recognising of the closeness that is there and saying, no need to deny it now – as Britain is not trying to screw up Ireland any more and hasn’t for a long time.

    If the result is bizarre, it’s the same oddness we’ve seen SF handling adeptly in the last couple of years. People buy it on a pretty unthinking “hey, we’re all just looking to the future” sensibility which doesn’t counter the internal incoherence but says it doesn’t matter.

  • mac tire

    “the other 2500 murdered by PIRA”
    Where do you get your information from, cynic2?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Just short of 1,800 I think was the final tally.

    I can see they must be offended by the suggestion they might have killed 2,500 when clearly their intention was always to stop at 1,800. 2,500, well, that’s just not on … 1,800 though: what more reasonable a number could there be to kill? It’s just right.

  • DogInTheStreet

    When Jeremy Thorpe (ex UK Liberal Party leader) was arrested and tried for conspiring in the murder of Norman Scott, did the Liberal Party bleat ‘political policing’ or threaten withdrawal of support for the police? This took place in 1978, a year where it was highly likely that a General Election could have been called by Callaghan (who like Brown in 2007, chickened out).

    The answer is no. Does SF seriously think it’s above the law and that its members, never mind leader, should be immune from arrest and the due process of law?

    None of us here are qualified in saying Adam is guilty or not ( unless of course, there are eye witnesses on this thread). This is not the point. The point is, is SF’s support for the PSNI and the ‘in-pieces’ process qualified on the authorities of legitimate law enforcement turning a blind eye to them?

    I support Liverpool FC. I would be quite annoyed if say, Suares was arrested and held over the final two matches of the season but I wouldn’t question the right of the police to arrest him if they had sufficient grounds for doing so. SF should grow up, mature and realise that their leadership have too many skeletons (real or rumored )in their closet for comfort.

    The PSNI know fine rightly that in the case of Adams, they wouldn’t dare arrest him without having a sufficient degree of grounds of suspicion. This does not mean he’s guilty but merely a person of significant interest.

    If however the PSNI do not have such evidence then that’s another matter and would be worthy of investigation itself. It’s the McConville family I feel for the most. I hope the PSNI know what they are doing as it would be callous to drag that poor family up the hill of hope only for them to be thrown down into the valley of disappointment.

    We also have to look at possible consequences of a hypothetical situation where Adams could be charged or even convicted.

    Would SF withdraw support from PSNI and Executive?
    Would SF state that the conditions for war have returned? If not, why not?
    What would need to happen for SF to return support for PSNI in the future?
    Would Eire’s FG/FF/Labour parties ever touch SF with a bargepole in the Dail in any future government unless any new leadership agrees to denounce the IRA and its actions (a republican Clause 4 moment) where all ex-combatants are asked to stand down their civic and party positions so ensure that all SF members and elected officials have had no personal involvement ever in the conflict.
    If Scotland votes Yes and NI is under direct rule, would any future Westminster government unilaterally impose Plan B or complete withdrawal?

    The ramifications of Adam’s arrest, while in my opinion justified if the evidence is sufficient for arrest, could be the flap of the butterfly wing that could cause a conflagration.

  • mac tire

    No Mainland Ulsterman, it’s about sticking to the facts. It’s always a good place to start, don’t you think?
    By the way, comedy doesn’t seem to be your forte.

  • Charles_Gould

    I don’t agree with this.

    If Gerry Adams were found guilty it would have no impact on the GFA, which is built on the rule of law. Moreover, it would allow a new leader such as Mary Lou McDonald to take over in SF.

  • Charles_Gould

    Its interesting having in recent news so many trials for things happening in the 70s and 80s – from sex attacks in London to murder in NI.

  • Politico68

    Odohertys piece is way off the mark. He claims that SF are heading into different directions north and south suggesting a partitionist inevitability which is more a reflection of how little he knows about us Shinners, how united we are as a block and regardless of the differing issues between the two jurisdictions we are one all Ireland organization functionally unaware of any border. For sure this arrest will damage the party in the 26 counties as it was planned to, but it won’t have any effect on the unity of the party.

  • DogInTheStreet

    Charles – If all the contributors’ names were removed from this forum I would still be able to identify your postings by their obvious naivity.

    It’s not beyond our imagination to conceive a scenario off SF throwing their toys from the pram and withdrawing from the Executive and the Policing Board in protest against Adam’s arrest or even any hypothetical future conviction.

    SF could then argue that the grounds for conflict have returned.

    What then for GFA?

    Covering it in the oven gloves of legality would not stop the flames that may consume the rest of the kitchen.

  • “SDLP Supporter I would imagine they would need to have more than that surely? Does that not simply amount to his (Bell’s) word against his (Adams)?”


    People have been convicted on just such evidence. It is what juries are for. The problem is finding an impartial jury in NI that will actually try the case on the evidence and not about its perceptions of the past or the future.

    If the timing of Adams’ s arrest was politically motivated, I’m guessing that Dublin had a hand in it. SF’s standing in NI is not likely to be affected by this as its electorate is pretty much in love with Adams. In the South it is a different situation and someone from FG might have had a word either with Cameron or possibly through the Garda with the PSNI.

    In Israel when the Likud lost the general election in 1992 the party leader, Yitzhak Shamir–another politician with a murky past, resigned. His expected successor, Moshe Arens, unexpectedly decided to resign from politics at the same time rather than follow Shamir as party leader. This opened the way to Netanyahu. Is it far fetched to imagine that McGuinness might go along with Adams and thus open the way up for a new generation of party leadership not only in the Republic but also in NI?

  • Charles_Gould

    Dog – we will just have to disagree on that. I would argue that the fact that Adams is being arrested actually shows how much things have moved in the whole development of the peace process. SF will not go back to war – they are too deeply stitched into political processes. The peace process is now at a stage where toleration of ambiguity, of lies, has changed. It is a process that’s bigger than any man.

  • tacapall

    “People have been convicted on just such evidence. It is what juries are for. The problem is finding an impartial jury in NI that will actually try the case on the evidence and not about its perceptions of the past or the future”

    Where have you been – A trial by jury ! I dont think the law allows a single judge who acts as judge jury and prosecution to use hearsay evidence to convict someone without any other collaborative evidence.

  • Equality and Justice are SF’s mantra. They are beautiful and apposite words at this time.

    I trust the bearded one is enjoying another free night in HM Jails. A privilege that Jean McConville did not receive! He wrote, with no sense of irony or shame, after the Bloody Sunday inquiry,

    “Today was a day for those who campaigned for almost 40 years for truth and justice….Widgery was part of the British state’s cover-up of what had happened…..”

    Well Mr Pinocchio this is your chance to give us all an example of truth and justice. I am sure you will be very happy to be candid with the police on all the facts that you know about of the past.

    I would like to hear him be tried by jury with the witnesses laid out like the testimony of Dolours Price who revealed of Gerry, “we were offended that he chose to deny us as much as he chose to deny his belonging to the IRA. To deny it is to offend those of us who partook in what we partook in.”

  • Anaximander

    The French have a saying that is oh so applicable to the North: la gestion entre l’harmonie et la vérité est complexe.

  • socaire

    If the British had executed the treasonous gun runners in 1912 instead of shooting shell shocked WW1 soldiers, we would have Home Rule and peace.

  • gendjinn


    ….. A trial by jury ! I dont think the law allows a single judge who acts as judge jury and prosecution to use hearsay evidence to convict someone without any other collaborative evidence.

    There couldn’t be a better outcome for re-unification than convicting Adams in a Diplock court on nothing but the Boston tapes. Especially as the British soldier murderers of Bloody Sunday, Ballymurphy, etc continue to escape justice.

  • Comrade Stalin


    If however the PSNI do not have such evidence then that’s another matter and would be worthy of investigation itself.

    Not quite. The police (everywhere) arrest and question people under suspicion as part of the evidence-gathering process. They need nothing more than a suspicion that Adams has information about the crime in order to arrest him.

    This matter is not without recent precedent. Billy Hutchinson was arrested in connection with the murder of Thomas Devlin. The police did not have evidence that Hutchinson was involved in the murder – he wasn’t – the arrest was a tactic to try to encourage those who did have information about the murder to come forward.

    I think the police are, similarly, holding Adams in order to encourage witnesses to come forward; Adams himself may not be the person they are trying to lay charges on. Helen McKendry has already come forward, presumably as a result of Adams’ arrest, although her testimony is of limited import given that she did not actually witness events. The family members who did witness things may be encouraged to speak out and could be offered witness protection.

    None of the contemporary accounts of the abduction and murder claim that Adams was physically present at any point during the incident. Charging and convicting Adams will therefore require at least one of those who carried out the murder to name him as the person who ordered it. But it’s pretty unlikely that any of those “volunteers” are going to give Adams up while they’re alive.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Mac Tire,
    Actually comedy is my forte, I am very, very funny.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Socaire, I agree the gunrunners should have had much harsher treatment but your assertion that Home Rule would have brought peace does seem a little other-worldly. The home rule issue was what brought the inherent divisions between the 2 peoples to the fore; hard to see why continuing with it would have ended division.

  • Charles_Gould


    The beauty of the GFA was that it brought about an Agreed Ireland that could address the fact we are a deeply divided people – John Hume’s legacy.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Given that the membership of SF in Belfast alone must number at least a few hundred and that McGuinness announced from the platform that people had come from Derry, Louth and Dublin, even I was taken aback at the low turnout at the ‘We love You Gerry, We Do’ rally today.

    It seems that even among their own there is a growing awareness that they’ve been lied to all along as to just how much has been changed and how much power, especially in regards policing they actually have.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Oh and the over the top dramatics, as McGuinness steadied a a seemingly distraught Martina Anderson on the way to the platform as she clutched a poster of Adams and Mandela to her chest, surely embarrassed even the most fanatical of the Adamsites?

  • sectarianheadcount

    Surely the PSNI has found a uniform to fit him by now?

  • Gopher

    Truly cringeworthy gathering, SF are coming across as shouty street preachers preaching to no one. They are starting to make the UUP look cool

  • Dixie Elliott

    I’m hearing that the removal of the ‘Breaking of the Falls Curfew by the Women’ to replace it with Gerry the Peacemaker has gone down like a lead balloon in the area.

    Local people are livid that such an iconic moment in the areas history could be wiped out and cast aside to make way for someone who effectively cleared out and left his electorate high and dry.

    Good old PSF you really shit in the nest on this one…

  • thisagain

    Now Our Dear Leader Martin is threatening to withdraw support from the police if Kim Il Adams is not released. Surely this is attempting to interfere with a police investigation? Are PIRA/SF going back to doing what they do best? If as he has said GA is innocent then he has nothing to fear. It’s not like former comrades have identified him as the person responsible for the murder of a mother-of-ten who was ‘taken away screaming in front of her children’ who were told to be quiet or else they would be murdered too, is it? Oh, wait a sec…..

  • Reader

    socaire: If the British had executed the treasonous gun runners in 1912 instead of shooting shell shocked WW1 soldiers, we would have Home Rule and peace.
    Your faith in the effectiveness of executions is noted. How many executions would have been required?

  • redstar2011

    GA freed with report to PPS

  • Kevsterino

    How long before the report to the prosecutors finds its way into cyberspace?

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    That was Hume’s legacy and also the reason “we are a deeply divided people” is not quite right. He believed there was a single Irish people and that therefore it’s dividing into two was some kind of original sin. In fact there are two peoples on the island, one of which does not primarily self-identify as “Irish” – and both are entitled to be respected equally. The beauty of the GFA is that it allows an agreed Ireland in which everyone’s identity is to be accepted, whether British, Irish or otherwise. Not Hume’s dream I think, but the only progressive, liberal way of living together that does not try and impose the values or identity of one upon the other.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Sorry, “its”

  • Mc Slaggart

    Mainland Ulsterman

    “He believed there was a single Irish people ”

    John Hume was a European and would have had a pluralistic view of identity.

    The fact that you have the Irish identity as two peoples is a bit binary. Do you think Unionists from Tyrone are the same as ones from East Belfast.