Kevin Myers: Our heroic media are not going after Gerry Adams as they would do a Catholic prelate
Published 20/01/2010 | 05:00
Everyone, including myself, has had a great deal of easy fun at the expense of the Robinsons. But, of course, they're easy targets -- they have no cultural power over nationalist Ireland.
But what is strange and almost sinister -- as Suzanne Breen and Ruth Dudley Edwards pointed out in the 'Sunday Tribune' and the 'Sunday Independent' -- is the media silence (especially in RTE news) over the Adams affair.
In 1987, Gerry Adams learnt that a senior member of Sinn Fein/IRA had been raping a little girl. This rapist was a relative of his, and the victim was the rapist's daughter, who was aged four when he began raping her.
These allegations have been confirmed by a medical examination of the little girl, Aine Tyrrell, who is now an adult, and has abandoned any claims to anonymity. We know what the IRA does to child rapists: it murders them. But this well-connected republican was instead moved to the Dundalk area, where he remained active not only in Sinn Fein, but in republican 'inner security'. Two of the people who attracted the attention of republicans at this time were John Joseph Mulhern (RIP) and Tom Oliver (RIP).
We were told, after the latter's murder, that the people of Louth and of Cooley, in particular, would forever renounce and reject Sinn Fein/IRA -- which undertaking they duly kept by voting Arthur Morgan of Sinn Fein into the Dail. As an aside, this casts some light on this curious creature, "republican morality". I confess I do not understand what I see by this light, merely that I see it.
Gerry Adams canvassed with the rapist in Dundalk 10 years after the rape allegations were made. The rapist became a very public figure in Dundalk in the late 1990s, and press photographs also show him with Martin McGuinness, Mitchel McLaughlin and other republican luminaries.
If a bishop had moved a child-raping priest to another diocese two decades ago, and remained a public figure today, would he not now be the subject of serious media questioning over his cover-ups? Would he not also be the subject of questions from TDs? Would the national broadcaster not have made the rape, and the covert moves of the rapist, a major issue worthy of much debate and comment?
But as Breen and Dudley-Edwards have pointed out, in this case, there is silence.
A leading Sinn Fein woman was alleged to have physically and sexually abused a girl in her care. Members of the victim's family say Sinn Fein was informed of the case, and did nothing about it.
Another victim of yet another IRA rapist is a relative of Joe Cahill, who shot dead a young Catholic police officer in the 1940s and is, accordingly, something of a hero in republican circles.
She says that she told Gerry Adams of the assaults, but her rapist was also allowed to go free. Now, any bishop with this kind of spectacular record to his name would be the subject of some pretty fevered RTE interviews and debates.
Instead, the original story of a four-year-old relative of Adams being raped by her father was broken by RTE's Tommy Gorman in a soapy, I-feel-your-pain-style interview with Gerry Adams that effectively repositioned him as the victim instead of what he was and remains -- the most powerful paramilitary leader in Ireland.
As president of Sinn Fein and a member of the IRA army council, he almost had the power of life and death over anyone within his community. Yet he allowed the rapist concerned to remain a member of that community.
Of course, there's still a residual sense of Smith & Wesson and midnight burials about Sinn Fein/IRA, which is why our heroic media are not going after Gerry Adams as they would do a Catholic prelate in the same position.
This reluctance even casts its protective penumbra on associates of the Shinners. The former Ardoyne parish priest Fr Aidan Troy has confirmed that he contacted Ms Tyrell, at the rapist's initiative, "in an effort to find closure for her".
I'm not sure when 'closure' starts after a child has been raped, but it is probably after the lifetime closure of prison doors on the rapist. Certainly, any cleric who had acted similarly on behalf of a child-raping priest is unlikely to have been as untouched by media criticism as Fr Troy has been.
And so, with a couple of exceptions, media outlets are letting the story merely generate its own momentum, rather than vigorously pursuing it, as they have would certainly done if a priest had been at its centre. Why? Probably because they remember one line from Gerry Adams: "They haven't gone away, you know." And mentally, they still haven't.
It's painless to kick a priest, but you don't kick Provos. You just don't. Because you're never quite sure when they're going to have one of those Incredible Hulk moments, and then, suddenly, the green monster is back -- in all its murderous ire. Bashing beaten bishops is far less risky.