Ed Moloney correctly notes that what Mairia Cahill outlined on Tuesday night’s Spotlight was (and remains) a scandal. If you doubt it, ask yourself why up to 13 individuals tried and failed at the High Court to have their names removed from the programme?
The picture painted by Cahill is of Sinn Fein corporately acting on the orders of the IRA: that much fabled and little talked about Movement to cover up multiple rape. Moloney also suggests the possibility that the PSNI colluded with former Provisionals to ensure her case was unprosecutable.
Now there was a time when Irish republicans were very alive to the idea of a whitewash, and not slow to tell the world about them. Their eery silence on the Cahill case suggests that the party’s inelegant Peace Process™ mash with the British state has become mission critical to the political survival of the party.
And yet, as Moloney points out the behaviour of the Irish media is strangely reticent. If you weren’t on Twitter or following online comment, you’d be hard put to say anything had happened at all. Moloney wonders how appropriate this is in the case of a man who clearly has his eyes on high office in the Irish state:
One would think that the embroiling of a major political leader in the Republic, for the second time in four years, in a sexual abuse scandal involving a minor and allegations of a cover up might be of interest to the island’s premier media outlets. All the more so since the opinion polls suggest that Mr Adams may well be leading his party into government within a year or so and that he himself may become Tanaiste in that government.
Jen O’Leary’s documentary was one of the most cleanly delivered pieces of television journalism we’ve seen in Northern Ireland in many years. It survived an aggressive, and no doubt expensive challenge, to cut its damaging payload (the naming of the actual Sinn Fein and IRA teams working in concert with each other).
And yet even the BBC struggled to deal with its outworking. Although Noel Thompson admirably picked up the ball for Talkback, the BBC NI News website ignored it until nearly 5pm, and then entertained us with this delightly unbalanced offering
Notice how on Ms Cahill is reduced to ‘woman’ whilst the lead headline appears to unequivocally endorse Mr Adams’s version. The rest makes use of those bland verbal false limbs Orwell observed in how propaganda seeks to remove moral agency from grave actions. Mairia’s picture remains nameless until you get to Gareth Gordon’s story when it finally pops up, seemingly unbidden.
Last night, you could see it. But today, it’s vanished once again from the front page. It’s certainly an interesting use of the licence payer’s fee, and perhaps something the regulator might want to hear about?
That said, I’m generally not a fan of conspiracy theories. They usually entail an invitation to engage in some form of collective madness, whilst attention is diverted away from the actual passage of events.
Still, this is the second woman who has accused Gerry Adams of some pretty unsavory personal behaviour (which he denies in both cases). They say that in war a sniper only ever gets away with two shots, because the third precisely trigs his exact location. Adams has taken two shots at the credibility of two claimants against his party of sexual abuse.
In pure judicial terms, Ms Cahill’s accusations have no weight. But in moral terms what she claims Adams said to her ought to give the rest of us some pause for thought about what we may be in the process of validating as normal pyschosexual behaviour.
Maybe its just too shocking for us (and the media at large) to process rationally and functionally. But if we don’t do it soon, we may all come to regret the long term repercussion.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty