Sunday 21 January 2018

Gerry won’t give up his seat

Gerry Adams. Photo: AFP/Getty
Gerry Adams. Photo: AFP/Getty
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

It's all very well to go around in Ireland comparing yourself to Martin Luther King.

Not only do Irish republicans like to see their struggle in those terms, that other firebrand preacher Ian Paisley saw himself as a Martin Luther King-style figure, once announcing that like another king, he had a dream. Indeed, this kind of grandiose identification with icons of freedom is commonplace on the Left in Ireland. Richard Boyd Barrett once compared his refusal to pay the €100 household charge (innocent times) to the tactics of Doctor King and Gandhi.

But while that’s fine amongst ourselves, it’s generally agreed you don’t go to the White House and compare yourself to Rosa Parks because you got delayed getting into the canapés. Rosa Parks became an icon when her refusal to give up her seat on the bus for a white person became a touchstone for the civil rights movement in America.

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