Tuesday 25 September 2018

The Adams Legacy: A political party linked inextricably to dark past

Sinn Fein will never cut itself free from its ties to an illegal paramilitary organisation, writes Willie Kealy

Gerry Adams and his successor as President of Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald
Gerry Adams and his successor as President of Sinn Fein, Mary Lou McDonald
Willie Kealy

Willie Kealy

Gerry Adams, who stepped down as Sinn Fein president yesterday after more than three decades, has often been compared unfavourably to the late Martin McGuinness. This had the effect of allowing for the possibility that there was a good IRA and a bad IRA. But there was not. There has always been just the bad.

Adams was the sinister bearded figure with a facial expression impossible to read, even when he was lying to your face and you knew it. And lying about his membership of the IRA was a constant feature of his public performance throughout his lengthy career, and especially lying about the senior role he played in that organisation and the consequent awesome responsibility for some unbelievable savagery.

McGuinness was seen to be completely different. He was the guy you could send in to play nice with Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson; he was someone you could run in the Republic's presidential election without the fear of total embarrassment - though a return of just under 14pc on that outing was nothing to crow about. But mostly the difference was that the Derry man admitted he was in the IRA. Everybody knew that McGuinness and Adams were senior IRA figures. But that seemed to matter less than the fact that Adams was perceived to be a liar and McGuinness was thought to be honest on the subject. Except he wasn't. That's just one of many myths and misconceptions about Sinn Fein/IRA.

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