Get your tickets for Pints & Prose. Malachi O’Doherty discusses his new biography of Gerry Adams…

Monday the 18th September – 7:15pm – The Dark Horse Bar, Belfast.

Join us for a conversation with journalist Malachi O’Doherty about his new biography of the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams. Your host for the evening will be Alan Meban.

‘Loathed, loved, terrorist to some, brilliant political strategist to others – what do we make of Gerry Adams? Malachi O’Doherty, one of Northern Ireland’s most fearless journalists and writers, has gone further than anyone else to disentangle it all in this impressively measured and stylishly written biography – an illuminating read.’ – Professor Marianne Elliott

How did Gerry Adams grow from a revolutionary street activist – in perpetual danger of arrest and assassination – into the leader of Sinn Féin, with intimate access to the British and Irish Prime Ministers and the US President? And how has he outlasted them all?

Drawing on newly available intelligence and scores of exclusive interviews, Malachi O’Doherty’s meticulously researched biography sheds light on the history of this extraordinary shape-shifter. O’Doherty grew up on a 1950s Belfast housing estate, behind IRA barricades in his teens, and witnessed the start of the Troubles first hand; he is uniquely placed to expose the real man behind the myths in this compelling study.

O’Doherty’s experience as a journalist – at the BBC, on Belfast’s newspapers, as correspondent for the Scotsman during the peace process, and as a commentator on Northern Irish affairs for the New Statesman – informs this authoritative account of one of the world’s most controversial politicians.

The venue is the Dark Horse Bar in the Cathedral Quarter. As always we are grateful to Willie Jack and the staff of the Dark Horse for their support of Slugger events.

Get your tickets now. This is a fundraising event to Keep Slugger Lit. Ticket price includes a complimentary light buffet.

 

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  • james

    Very much looking forward to reading this – hopefully this is the real story behind a character who has exerted rather a malign influence on us all.

  • Brian Kann

    Presuming Gerry will deny this book is about him?

  • Barneyt

    I heard a discussion about this on matt coopers 4:30 show on today fm. The author made a curious remark. Gerry was practically a “sticky”? The stickies remained in the official organisation and eclected to take a political route in the early 70s. It just doesn’t stack up that Gerry had these inclinations. The political route for the provisionals game very late indeed. Took 14 years after the republican split to recognise the dail. Another 8 years passed until the first ceasefire. I see no evidence that the provisionals would have accepted a sticky Gerry, nor would they accommodate any alledged Marxist leanings. This was one of the reasons for the split and the formation of the provisional movement

  • the rich get richer

    A bit of a let down…having Malachi O’ Doherty doing ones biography ( though unofficial )……..

    I can’t say I rate O ‘ Doherty very highly . I suppose we must give it a chance……..

  • ted hagan

    Try reading it with an open mind then.

  • babyface finlayson

    Get that shooting of the messenger in early!

  • The worm!

    I think describing Gerry as “rather a malign influence” is actually being quite open minded all things considered!

  • And Gerry used to work round the corner in The Duke of York …

  • the rich get richer

    Sure you can listen to the message and even pay heed of it……

    Doesn’t mean that he is a good messenger………..

  • the rich get richer

    Are you suggesting Gerry should /could serve the Drinks……..

  • Skibo

    It did not take 14 years for Sinn Fein to recognise the Dail. Sinn Fein was an abstentionist party in the south from 1922. De Valera left Sinn Fein to form FF.

  • mickfealty

    Read the commenting rules please??

  • Granni Trixie

    I think there is an anecdote in the book concerning a split in Adams family over allegiance – his sister joined the Stickies.

  • the rich get richer

    Fair enough Mick . I though a hard bitten journalist would be able to handle a bit of criticism .

    I don’t find Malachi O ‘ Doherty’s work as a journalist particularly good . Surely if you are going to be a critical journalist some criticism must be fair game…..

  • mickfealty

    I’m not in the least worried about Malachi. He’s endured much worse with a humour his critics too often lack (for their own good). It’s the cleanliness of the comment zone I’m concerned about.

  • sparrow

    There’s no single ‘real story’ about any of us. We’re all much more complex than that. Show me the person who is the same individual at 60 as he / she was at 20 and I’ll show you a sad case of arrested development. Hopefully Malachi’s book on Adams reflects this.

  • sparrow

    Sorry, just reread that and realise that it sounds more than a bit pompous. We’re all a collection of stories, is what I was trying to say.

  • james

    He’s certainly apt to deny he was ever in the book.

  • james

    Accusing Adams of being a ‘stickie’ can be a rather risky thing – as this man discovered….

    http://irishecho.com/2011/02/tout-turned-author-tortured-murdered-2/

  • The worm!

    Ha ha ha, very good James!

  • Granni Trixie

    It is deeply mysterious this thing between the stickys and the Provisionals but in any event looks like an Adams sister ‘sticking’ with the Stickys caused problems inhouse.

  • ted hagan

    What things considered?

  • The worm!

    What do you think of planet Earth so far given your apparent short time here?

  • ted hagan

    Too many arseholes like you

  • The worm!

    You were the one trying to be smart pal.

    At least be man enough to take it on the chin when it gets batted back at you!

  • Stephen Kelly

    Oh dear out come the anoraks and the haters here we go. LOL good luck Jerry not that you need it i am sure.

  • Stephen Kelly

    Now that is very well put just looking at my own life and many around me.

  • How did Gerry Adams grow from a revolutionary street activist – in perpetual danger of arrest and assassination – into the leader of Sinn Féin, with intimate access to the British and Irish Prime Ministers and the US President? And how has he outlasted them all?

    You need to ask? You know what they say about needing to ask 🙂

    Gerry discovered AltExercises for Access to Success with Magic Keys? …. Fact or Fiction? And how would you tell the difference between such Twins? He certainly learnt well quickly how to play a Great Game.

  • Stephen Kelly

    Oh dear out come the people who like to wear a type of over garment that was popular in the 1970s and those that make snide remarks about Sinn Feinn and Jerry.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Au contraire, he takes apart Republican self-justificatory crazy logic like few others. “The Trouble With Guns” is a brilliantly observed analysis of the thought processes and the lies.

  • MainlandUlsterman

    Moderators please

  • MainlandUlsterman

    I’d say it was understatement of the century. How he’s walking around freely is something amazing and terrible – belongs in jail.

  • The worm!

    It’s grand.

    A comment like that can also say quite a lot about the person making it so I don’t mind it staying.

    But thanks. 🙂

  • ted hagan

    Well you did ask.

  • Marcus Orr

    The “open-mind” merchants turn out to be rather closed minded towards certain groups and types of people that they don’t like, when you scratch a little underneath the surface.

  • james

    I’d agree with that. I’d attribute to the Jimmy Saville effect – Adams, for as long as he is alive, is shielded by so much ‘plot armour’ that he is untouchable. There’s no justice in that fact – but it is a fact. And one which we all know, unionist, nationalist, and republican alike. For the republican brethern on here who pretend to believe his innocent mewlings about not having been a terrorist godfather for decades – while knowing as well as we do that Mr Adams has the blood of many on his hands – I’d say they ought to be ashamed of themselves as men.

  • Christopher Owens

    Best of luck with the night. Hope there’s more planned along these lines.

    Unfortunately, the book is a damp squib, merely reiterating well known stories without a fresh angle or new sources.

  • james

    Breathtaking lack of class, Mr Hagan.

  • james

    Before he, like McGuinness and his ilk, decided that he didn’t fancy working for a living.

  • james

    You’ve read it?

  • Christopher Owens

    Yip. Arrived from Amazon on Monday and finished it yesterday.

  • james

    Not a fan of reading books that you think might challenge your opinions then?

    Or just not sure how to incorporate the views of a nationalist who doesn’t sure your admiration for the paramilitary wing of the Republican movement?

  • james

    Have you read other books of his? Which?

  • ted hagan

    I wondered when you would show up. What is this, a right-wing conspiracy?

  • ted hagan

    Hear, hear.

  • james

    It’s a peculiar two-pronged phenomenon of the modern world – perhaps fuelled by the internet – which basically convinces a person that:

    1. Any time more than one person at the same time disagrees with them, this amounts to a conspiracy, and;

    2. They personally are so important, and their opinions so profound, that they merit a ‘conspiracy’ against them.

    Catch yourself on, Ted.

  • james

    Which stories were a ‘retread’ of already-known stuff? Wondering whether to purchase a copy myself.

  • ted hagan

    Don’t take it too seriously, young feller.

  • Christopher Owens

    The one that springs to mind (and was highlighted in the Irish News review) is the story about Billy McKee sending Provos up to Ballymurphy (not long after St.Matthew’s). Going up to defend the area, they were held back by Adams, who was of the belief that the violence would radicalise the population (as previously revealed in ‘A Secret History of the IRA’, which I highly recommend).

    Richard O’Rawe, Mairia Cahill, Anthony McIntyre and Brendan Hughes are all featured. Obviously it would be churlish to criticise O’Doherty for including them, but their tales and views are already widely known in researcher circles and he (to my mind) simply allows them to reiterate their tales without a fresh angle.

  • james

    Trying to have your cake and eat it?

  • Christopher Owens

    He also neglects to mention Adams’ role in the formation of NICRA.

  • babyface finlayson

    I was under the impression that Gerry’s role in the formation of NICRA was minimal in that he was at the International mooching about at the back.

  • Christopher Owens

    Technically, yes. But he still voted for it.

    Yet it’s not given a mention by O’Doherty.

  • babyface finlayson

    Well I haven’t read the book yet so I cannot judge but it does not seem a very significant omission, given that he was there under instruction to vote for it.
    I agree it probably should have been mentioned though, for the sake of completeness

  • Christopher Owens

    I know what you mean (in that because he didn’t play a significant role, it could theoretically be left out) but I would have thought that O’Doherty would have used it when he writes about the IRA playing a role within NICRA (not, crucially, leading it).

  • ted hagan

    Perhaps.
    Good night.

  • babyface finlayson

    Well you have me at a disadvantage. If M’O’D was writing about the IRA role then it would have been worth a mention that Gerry made a minor appearance, but I am not sure that on its own it is significant.
    Actually I am surprised that O’Doherty did not take the opportunity to point out the difference between the small role Gerryactually played and the more significant role that is now being tentatively suggested by some.

  • Christopher Owens

    I would argue that, despite his minor role, it is significant as here was Adams “officially” beginning his tentative attempts to express his republican beliefs by using the plight of nationalists and, when the Stormont government responded by banning marches and police/B Specials battering people, it consolidated his notion that Stormont was unreformable and led to the path that he currently finds himself in.

    Obviously, that’s a huge oversimplification of what actually happened (he had joined the IRA in 1966). But I think it would have been worth reflecting on. If he had not been involved with NICRA, would he have been just another republican? Did NICRA allow him a chance to see the differing strands in NI left wing politics at the time and teach him how to hold these differing strands together successfully? It would have been nice to have seen an angle like that explored.

    Who is suggesting that he played a significant role? When he came out with the “Ballymurphy N*****” line and tried to justify it by using the “I was a founding member of NICRA” line, he was universally disbelieved. Even by people like Ivan Cooper and Austin Currie.

  • babyface finlayson

    As I say it would have been worth a mention especially if it helps develop a picture of the psychology of the young Adams., but I do not think it amounts to a significant omission unless you are seeing it as one piece of a larger attempt to misrepresent the man.
    According to the man himself he found it rather boring so I am not sure we can infer a great deal about its effect on him.
    As to who is suggesting he played a significant role I would say, this, from the Sinn Fein website for one, is an attempt to suggest significance:
    “Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams MP MLA, who was one of the small number people present at the founding of the Association expresses his best wishes to all of those who participated in or supported the efforts to achieve fundamental civil and human rights in those difficult days.
    It is subtle but the reference to the small number present is clearly intended to imply he was not just shuffling about at the back.

  • Christopher Owens

    I certainly don’t think it’s an attempt to misrepresent him, I just found it a curious omission. Sure, I was speculating about the effect it had on him (and clearly, as you’ve pointed out, doesn’t match what Adams himself has written about the event), but more of that might have lifted the book beyond what we already know about him.

  • babyface finlayson

    Christopher
    Fair enough.
    Perhaps we all know or think we know as much as we need to know about Adams.
    It is hard to imagine any revelation that would be a huge surprise, unless it was definitive evidence that he was really never in the IRA.
    Now that would be a story!

  • Granni Trixie

    NICRA was a non violent movement – hardly his thing,was it?

  • Granni Trixie

    Sf appropriating NICRA as a nonviolent response to grievances is consistent with their attempts to justify the physical force campaign.

  • Granni Trixie

    I think many might be interested in influences, especially moral, on Adams in the seminal phase of his life to help explain how he ended up as an adult. I was born and raised not far from where he lived and was from a poor family too but no one ever urged me to join IRA as appears to have happened in his family.

  • Granni Trixie

    For goodness sake – you stick up for “Jerry” all the time but I can’t believe you really don’t know how to spell his name!

  • Christopher Owens

    I would hardly say SF are appropriating NICRA when (by quite a few accounts) the IRA were involved in its genesis.

    Yes, initially it was a non-violent movement but the result of William Craig banning marches (against the advice of police officers) and physical attacks from off duty police/B-Specials pushed it further and further into confrontation mode. By 1972, they were firmly entrenched in a Provisional IRA style philosophy.

  • babyface finlayson

    Yes it is an interesting question. Many young men and women experienced the same conditions as Adams or McGuinness.
    Why did some choose violence as a response while others did not?
    Perhaps Malachi’s book will enlighten us.

  • Christopher Owens

    Not really. There’s the usual about coming from a republican background and the 1966 riots in Divis Street, but that’s about it.

  • Granni Trixie

    I look forward to seeing if Malachi is invited to participate in next years Feile.
    Hell, i’ll wager he won’t ( putting down the gauntlet here).

  • Barneyt

    I mean from the formation of the provisionals to the recognotion of the Dail in 86. I realise the republicans as a whole were abstentionist.