Party can't shake dark past as long as old guard remains
Published 01/05/2014 | 02:30
IN THE afternoon, Gerry Adams was in the Dail chamber challenging the Taoiseach.
Hours later, he was in police custody in Belfast being questioned about the abduction and murder of Jean McConville, the widowed mother of 10 children, in 1972.
It is rare that any senior politician is questioned about serious crime – and pretty well unheard of that they be questioned about kidnapping and murder.
So, this is a serious and difficult business for Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams, the poll-topping TD for Louth and the leader of the party's 14 TDs in Dail Eireann.
Recent opinion polls – including one for this newspaper last weekend – suggest many voters south of the Border are prepared to vote for Sinn Fein.
There is every reason to believe the party could have a European Parliament member in all four constituencies on this island next month.
So, the party cries foul and accuses the police of acting to damage its political future.
It is not surprising as an accusation, and its more ardent supporters will definitely believe these assertions.
But is there ever a convenient time to pursue an investigation into a crime such as that against Jean McConville and her family?
Many people will believe that the law, which has been so inadequate over four decades, should simply take its course.
We must also consider that Mr Adams has long been less than forthcoming about his Republican past. He has asked us to believe that he was never in the IRA.
A whole slew of well-placed people on all sides of the political spectrum in these islands have found that assertion risible and insulting.
There is a rising generation of talented Sinn Fein public representatives who are helping to propel the party in new and interesting political directions.
But as long as the 'old guard', such as Mr Adams, continue to cling to the leadership reins, the party's dark and difficult past will continue to linger.
But let us leave the politics of all this to one side right now.
This is simply about the unsolved abduction and murder of a widowed mother of 10 children.