Adams has an eye to how he will be judged by history in his invocation of civil rights heroes
The Sinn Fein president's delusions that he is this island's Mandela can only last until his past is fully revealed - until then he is trying to control the narrative to his legacy
Published 15/05/2016 | 02:30
The Gerry Adams's study in comparative suffering between northern Catholics, the oppressed of Apartheid South Africa and civil rights-era African-Americans reflects something different to a confused meandering about history. Nor is he simply indulging a national gift for exceptionalism. This is not just about Catholics and their suffering, but the exceptional company in which Sinn Fein associates have sometimes placed Adams. By their reasoning he stands with Nelson Mandela. According to his own view of the past, he not only belongs in the same company as civil rights hero Rosa Parks, but among the millions sold into slavery, the whipped, degraded, raped and murdered of America's pre-Civil War southern states. Can he really be so convinced of this that he will tweet the toxic N-word?
Adams is an intelligent and very calculating man. He proved this in the role he played to bring peace, and in the Provos' long war. Details to follow. At some future point.
I wonder if the ghosts of the past are not rattling the gates here. It is significant that his widely condemned comments come in the middle of the long season of Irish anniversaries - the Rising, the War of Independence, the Civil War. A man of his age is looking to the judgement of posterity. At some point the younger generation of Sinn Fein leaders will surely decide it is time for him to move on and enjoy a fruitful retirement divided between Belfast and some part of Donegal where there is no access to wifi.