Wednesday 15 August 2018

Brendan O'Connor: Mallon: fiercely moral voice who refuses to buy into the lies

As the Gerry Adams legend is printed this weekend, we should pay attention to Seamus Mallon's sober and honest assessment, writes Brendan O'Connor

Authentic: Seamus Mallon demands that we listen to some home truths. Photo: Mark Condren
Authentic: Seamus Mallon demands that we listen to some home truths. Photo: Mark Condren
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

As Sinn Fein conducted one of its trademark spectaculars yesterday - not a bomb exploded, but a baton passed - there was one man who won't have been cheering. One man was presumably sitting in Armagh, carved out of granite, his eyes and his tongue still sharp and piercing at 81, disgusted, as he has been for years.

We know Seamus Mallon wasn't there, because Seamus Mallon can't be in the same room as Gerry Adams. Having spent a lifetime getting on with people and liking people that he didn't agree with, there is something about Adams that Seamus Mallon recoils from, because, "he has his hand in too many awful events. Too many".

Mallon isn't the only one. It is notable how even former comrades of Adams, a few of them who featured in Vincent's Browne's two-part Adams documentary last week, talk about him being a hard man to like, a hard man to trust, a hard man to get to know. One described how Adams was always guarded in how he spoke, always on message. You may argue Adams had to be like that, but you wonder too what is left of a man when he can't be real even with his allies and friends. Where does the humanity hide if all you are is a brittle construct of secrets and lies?

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