Opinion Analysis

Sunday 16 June 2019

For Adams, truth and lies are matters of political expediency

The Sinn Fein leader's hypocrisy and double standards were there for all to see this week, writes Eamon Delaney

Is Gerry Adams for real? I mean, does he actually expect us to take him seriously? Last week, the man whose flexible attitude to the truth is legendary, excelled himself yet again.

Thus, we had the dichotomy of his reaction to two different events. One was the discovery in north Monaghan of the remains of Charlie Armstrong, who was 'disappeared' by the IRA 29 years ago, for reasons that were never made clear. Except that Adams said there was "no evidence" that the IRA had killed him and added that anyway, "Who killed him is of secondary importance."

Of secondary importance? Tell that to the judge or to his widow, who has waited 29 years to find her husband's remains so that she can give him a Christian burial.

No doubt she would like to know why he was killed and who killed him. This is unlikely to be of "secondary importance" to her. Was he killed because he resisted the hijacking of his car or was it because he saw something in south Armagh where he lived, the infamous bandit country?

We don't know. And we'll never know unless the IRA tells us.

But contrast this with the appearance of Gerry Adams later that day at a protest calling for a "full inquiry" into the shootings in Ballymurphy, west Belfast during the internment round-up of 1971. About this, Adams supports those who "need to know the full details and who was responsible".

Now the Ballymurphy shootings were awful, no doubt about it, but they were part of a riotous situation, against the

backdrop of three days of gun battles between the IRA and a nervous, trigger-happy British army.

The shootings weren't quite as premeditated as taking a man out of his car for execution and secret burial. But at the protest, Adams was accompanied by the Bishop of Down and Connor, Noel Treanor, not the most helpful piece of imagery for unionist eyes: the Catholic bishop and the ex-IRA man, side by side.

Or make that "Sinn Fein man", since Gerry Adams says that he was never in the IRA. Just as he said the IRA was not responsible for Charlie Armstrong's death, even though everyone else, including seasoned objective observers, firmly believes that they were -- and even though the commission to investigate such disappearances was contacted anonymously by someone with the precise details of where he was buried.

But then Gerry Adams also initially denied that the killing of Garda Jerry McCabe was an IRA operation or that the IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank robbery. And it just goes on and on. As does Adams.

Unable to leave the scene, he clings Castro-like to power, a figure from history, torpedoing his party's chances of success at the last southern election.

On the matter of Armstrong's killing, it would have been better if he said nothing -- or let a young Sinn Fein representative make a terse statement. Or let the clearly more impressive and empathetic Martin McGuinness make a statement. And what is wrong with admitting guilt anyway? Isn't this what the process of "reconciliation and moving on" is all about?

But no, Adams had to pompously stride out and get his spake in, offending the Armstrong family and irritating the rest of us.

It's like he himself said of the IRA -- the war may be over but he hasn't gone way, you know.

Or to paraphrase the British Labour Party about its old Tory rivals, "Same old Shinners, same old lies".

Sunday Independent

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