Thursday 23 November 2017

Why those silent watchers deserve to be honoured

The late Kadar Asmal's biography shows why security officials were right to monitor many strands of radical politics, says Eilis O'Hanlon

ALONG comes another witness to claim that Gerry Adams, the world-famous troubadour for peace, was a leading member of the IRA during the worst years of the Troubles. Only problem is that this time it isn't one of the newly elected Louth TD's ideological enemies, or some embittered former comrade, but Kadar Asmal, former Trinity Professor and hero of the anti-apartheid movement, who remembers in his newly published memoir, Politics In My Blood, how he first contacted the Provos to train ANC men in Ireland, and later requested help from the IRA in blowing up an oil refinery back home, and how Gerry sent out two Volunteers to muck in and get the job done.

Kadar Asmal died in June, so presumably Adams will resort to mumbling and spluttering, which has increasingly become his last defence against the growing chorus of witnesses with the temerity to remember him back in the day when his involvement in Irish politics took a more direct form than raising points of order during Dail debates.

Either way, he's quickly running out of options. Former IRA men can be dismissed when they are beyond the grave, as Brendan Hughes was when his claims about the involvement of Adams in the abduction, murder and secret burial of West Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville were published by journalist Ed Moloney; but Asmal is a different kettle of fish. No anti-Sinn Fein agenda can be conveniently pinned on him.

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