Gerry Adams isn't the first republican to travel overseas for a covert operation. However, last week's admission by Sinn Féin that its party leader underwent prostate surgery at a private medical centre in the US provides an X-ray insight into the enormity of the organisation's congenital hypocrisy.
In his guise as a socialist, Adams frequently rails against the creeping privatisation of the health service. Speaking as a Louth TD, he poses as a doughty defender of the Irish hospital system. Up North, he is a fearless champion of the NHS. When his own health requires treatment, however, he's on the first flight to New York.
Doublespeak is the Sinn Féin vernacular, and it's no surprise to see a party bigwig demonstrate impassioned love of the language. Nevertheless, there is a brazen-ness about Adams's opportunistic approach to healthcare issues that merits greater scrutiny by voters. In the Dáil, for instance, he is often heard paying lavish tribute to overworked nurses and doctors. Not so long ago, of course, he was centrally involved in the creation of work for hospital wards.
Adams likes to think he's on safe ground when making pious speeches about trouble in our beleaguered health system. But he isn't: as any doctor will tell you, an Achilles' heel combined with a forked tongue always results in grave complications.