Saturday 22 October 2016

The audacity of Gerry Adams

Published 10/01/2016 | 02:30

07/01/16Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at the 1916 Centenary Commemorative at the Mansion House,Dublin this evening.Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos
07/01/16Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams at the 1916 Centenary Commemorative at the Mansion House,Dublin this evening.Pic Stephen Collins/Collins Photos

The Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams, last week delivered a speech at the Mansion House in Dublin in which he sought to associate the Easter Rising 1916 with the political party he has led since 1983 and urged his followers to "Join the Rising" in the General Election against Fine Gael, Fianna Fail and Labour.

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It must be acknowledged that the Sinn Fein president was playing to an audience of party supporters, and that the country is a matter of weeks from what will be a seminal election, but it still has to be said that Mr Adams's audacity knows no bounds.

Perhaps his brazen highlight was to seamlessly refer to the blood sacrifice of the Easter Rising leaders 100 years ago in the same breath as the misguided hunger strikers 35 years ago. It is a proposition that will be far beyond the acceptance of the vast majority of citizens in the Republic, but is part of a clear and cynical strategy by Sinn Fein to equate the heroic events which led to the foundation of the State to the campaign of violence orchestrated by the Provisional IRA for around 30 years, which has still not fully settled and which never had a mandate.

Similarly, his criticism of the "sectarian regimes" which emerged North and South after the Rising would have contained some validity but for the fact that the organisation he has led for more than a generation is sectarian in its essence. His reference to the Magdalene laundries, reformatory and industrial schools and other institutions to make a point about the nature of the narrow, mean-minded, conservative and elite society which had emerged after the foundation of the State is also beyond parody, considering the recent disturbing revelations in relation to the Provisional IRA perpetration and cover-up of child sexual abuse, about which Sinn Fein is still in denial.

Mr Adams also used his speech to make pointed attacks on what are often referred to as the 'Establishment' political parties, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour, which the heavens know are not beyond criticism, but for all their faults, were reflective of the times in which they won and lost power, the foundation of each of which, unlike the current incarnation of Sinn Fein, can be directly linked to the Rising and, this newspaper would contend, have built and rebuilt the societies in which we have lived, more for the good than ill, since the foundation of the State.

That is not to say that society does not need to be built again, from the ground up, perhaps more so than at any other time in the past 100 years, and much of what Mr Adams had to say at the Mansion House in that regard may have been correct. But his denunciations ring hollow, his calls to "Join the Rising", by which he means a new rising against those parties which built this State, falls on its face in the continued absence of his acceptance of, and apology for, his organisation's role in the horrors of the Provisional IRA campaign of terror, which more than any other perceived or actual calumny on the part of the so-called 'Establishment' parties, has irredeemably scarred the soul of this nation.

Sunday Independent

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