Tuesday 17 October 2017

Adams sees the words but just doesn't get the picture

The Sinn Fein leader's problem is that his body may live in Co Louth but his mind has never left the North, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams

Eilis O'Hanlon

PLENTY has been said about Gerry Adams's response to the Smithwick tribunal report, but the "Adams problem", as we should probably now start calling the parade of stumbling idiocies that make up the Sinn Fein leader's contribution to public life, was probably best summed up by Talleyrand more than 200 years ago, when he declared that Napoleon's execution of a young duke was "worse than a crime, it was a blunder".

Adams commits no crime when he repeatedly makes crass and offensive comments about some of the worst atrocities of the Troubles, but if politics is the art of avoiding blunders, then it's a skill which appears to have deserted him. What last week showed is that Gerry Adams may have read the Smithwick report, but he didn't understand it; or to put it another way, he understood what all the words said, but he didn't understand what they meant. In short, Adams's problem is that he thought the Smithwick report was about the North. It wasn't. It was about the Garda Siochana.

That may seem like an obvious thing to say, but Adams simply does not seem to grasp the fondness and respect in which the Garda Siochana is held in the country in which he's now an elected representative. People in what he calls the 26 counties not only feel that the Garda has been an honourable force for good, it's important to their national sense of self that it be seen as such. So when the Smithwick report concluded there had been collusion, on however isolated a scale, with the IRA, and that it had led in this instance to two brutal murders, it struck a chord. Two men had come unarmed to a neighbour's house – and they had to be unarmed because of the provisions of the Anglo Irish Agreement which had been negotiated on behalf of the people – and they'd been struck down by evil. You only have to go back to the Icelandic sagas to see what a violation of hospitality is represented by killing men who come in good faith to your hearth.

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