For the foreseeable future, almost whatever comes, it’s Gerry’s party to build or destroy…

Malachi O’Doherty in the BelTel wonders if Gerry is losing his touch

He says “mea culpa”, accepting the failing, but it would help if we knew who the “b******s” are. Is Gregory Campbell one of them? That seems fairly likely. In the juvenile world he relishes he surely gets called worse.

But is Peter Robinson a b*****d? Is the average unionist voter?

 The ones he specifically absolves are those who don’t vote at all because they are “scundered” by the likes of Gregory. Maybe Orangemen are b******s and the few secular unionists aren’t.

Given that the obstacle for Sinn Fein in advancing its agenda is not a minority of surly, inflexible rednecks, but the actual DUP, then it is hard to suppose that the jibe is meant for any but the whole lot of them.

So, if he intended it that way and then retracted with an apology fit for an altar boy, then, that suggests incompetence. He wasn’t doing himself any favours by putting himself in that position. And he certainly wasn’t doing any favours for the party.

Not doing any favours for the party because contrary to Jude’s take on this matter, Malachi does not believe this was either strategic, clever or directioned. Rather he makes the case that Gerry’s underlying problem is that he has…

…pledged himself to a lie, that he was never in the IRA. In the last month both Bertie Ahern, a former Taoiseach, and Michael McDowell, a former Irish Justice Minister, have said plainly that Gerry was in the IRA. Blair’s emissary Jonathan Powell has said it.

He practically said it himself in a Channel Four documentary in which he went looking for the real Jesus. At the end he said only generals can make peace, and then he raised an eyebrow as if to say: “Did you notice what I just said there; have you worked it out?”

He goes on…

…the question of abuse and how he responds to the abused keeps coming back, as it did through the trial of his brother Liam and the complaints of Mairia Cahill. In both cases he blundered appallingly.

You would not believe, reading the transcript of his cross-examination by Liam Adams’s defence counsel, that this is a man capable of standing for election to anything, let alone being the president of a major political party for 30 years.

It was just rambling and weird. Over and over again he wanted to tell the court about his “process” of healing his family and helping Liam with his demons.

Over and over again the court tried to remind him that that was all irrelevant to the case in front of them.

He did not anticipate the questions he would get and had not even worked out a timeline of events that he could stand over.

As with Mairia Cahill – he has known the details of her case for about 15 years and he knew four years ago that she was going to the police. This was inevitably going to blow up in his face. What is nearly more shocking even than the allegation of cover-up is that he was so unprepared for this.

Who first disclosed that sex offenders had been shuffled south by the IRA? He did. In his blog.

And he failed to see that that would become the central part of the case against his party in the south and he has had to resile from his insistence that no information could be provided to now quite handily getting files through his letterbox that he can pass to the Guards.

As I said, this all suggests incompetence.

Is Gerry going to step down and should Gerry step down are two different matters. Five years ago (ie, before the rape allegations emerged), I made a much gentler argument in that respect

…now might be a good time for Adams to call it a day, or at the very least announce he would like his post as president to become contestable. It could open the field to younger candidates perhaps more energetic and politically fluent with the southern polity, and signal the party’s determination to follow a path of genuine restructuring and renewal.

It lost me, if not friends, then some senior internal advocates within the party. As it happens, the party’s subsequent success at the polls have proven that analysis to be at the very least pre-mature. Adams and Sinn Fein have ridden out storms that would kill another party.

It’s his position as the unassailable general which has allowed them to breast each media wave that them and plough on through. Without him, I doubt they would have survived never mind prospered in the way they have.

Their very attraction is that they don’t play politics the way everyone else does. Adams is the man at the helm, and for the foreseeable future, almost whatever comes it’s his party to build or destroy…

 

 

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