You're no Michael Collins, FG man tells Gerry Adams
IT just won't go away, you know. That niggling doubt, that shadow of gunmen -- the question as to whether Gerry Adams was ever in the IRA.
Tsk, tsk, tutted Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness yesterday. How dare other people bring up the past? This IRA thing is a desperate attempt by Fianna Fail to drag us down into the dirt.
Mr Adams says he's never been in the IRA -- even though everyone seems to think he was -- and the issue flared up yesterday when the Sinn Fein president faced his own Dan Quayle moment.
Quayle, George W Bush's Republican vice-president, claimed in a 1988 debate that he had "as much experience ... as Jack Kennedy did when he sought the presidency".
His Democratic rival, Lloyd Bentsen, told Quayle: "You're no Jack Kennedy."
Quayle was notoriously gaffe-prone and Gerry Adams has had a few corkers himself in this election.
Yesterday, during a Louth candidates' debate on the 'Today With Pat Kenny' show on RTE Radio, Mr Adams was asked about the IRA again. He said he had "never distanced" himself from the IRA.
Asked by Fine Gael's Fergus O'Dowd how he "could live" with the memory of republican atrocities committed during the Troubles, he countered: "Can you live with Michael Collins?"
Mr O'Dowd riposted with "You're no Michael Collins."
Then, as he was being interrupted by the Sinn Fein leader, Mr O'Dowd tartly remarked: "Allow me to speak -- we're in the South now."
Asked by Labour's Jed Nash to state directly whether he'd ever been a "senior member" of the IRA, Adams replied: "What part of 'No' do you not understand?" before adding: "Why don't you ask Eamon Gilmore the same question?"
Mr McGuinness was in Dublin yesterday for a Sinn Fein policy launch and did his best to dodge the question about Adams and the IRA.
"I've answered that question on 'The Late Late Show'. I don't talk about who's in the IRA or who's not in the IRA," he said.
"But Gerry Adams said he wasn't in the IRA -- do you believe him?"
"Gerry Adams has given his answer and that's the end of it as far as I'm concerned."
"But do you believe him?"
"He's given his answer and that's the end of it as far as I'm concerned."
"Wouldn't it just be better if he addressed his past?"
"Gerry has made his statement and I think that's the end of it as far as I'm concerned."
Mr McGuinness said he was "disappointed in Micheal Martin" for bringing up the issue.
"I would have expected it of some other politicians but I was actually surprised to hear it from Micheal Martin," he said.
However, he then went on to contradict himself about exactly how surprised he is, saying:
"Politics is dirty even when there aren't elections, so none of this surprises me at all."
The Sinn Fein answers surprise nobody either.