Sunday 19 February 2017

Ruth Dudley Edwards: Cringing over Baron Von Provo's ignoble mutterings

Gerry Adams' ignorance on Southern issues is laughable, but he'll still get elected, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Published 06/02/2011 | 05:00

I never thought I'd feel sorry for Gerry Adams, but listening to Colm O Mongain's interview with him on Sunday's This Week, I kept squirming in sympathy.

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The sound of shuffling paper over the airwaves from Derry as he hunted desperately for an answer to simple questions was embarrassing ('Eist liom. I'm going to get you the figures'); the gobbledygook was cringe-making; his blustering attempt to explain why in government in Northern Ireland Sinn Fein cut public spending yet are anti-cuts down south was excruciating; and then came the stomach-churner of 'the warm weather payments' awarded to denizens of the six counties under benign Sinn Fein rule, which actually were 'cold weather allowances' initiated in the 1980s.It was like watching an actor forget his lines on stage.

This 20-minutes of sheer humiliation had followed on poor Gerry's inability to tell a nosy BBC hack the rate of child benefit or even of VAT, and the farce of his resignation from Westminster. Now the guy's been an MP for 22 years, and although he doesn't formally attend the House of Commons, he's sometimes in the building and draws generous expenses for London accommodation. Sinn Fein's Westminster staff will have told him that apart from the dissolution of parliament, constitutionally the only excuses for vacating your seat are death, expulsion or elevation to the peerage, or securing one of two paid Crown sinecures. Since Iris Robinson at present is Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds, Adams had to apply for the Crown position of Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead. He didn't, but rather than have a pointless row, the British government gave him the job anyway.

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