“A silent mouth is sweet to hear”

Today The Pensive Quill carries an article by guest writer, Mark McGregor

“A silent mouth is sweet to hear” by Mark McGregor

Different people seem to find different things to interest them in Johann Hari’s recent interview with Gerry Adams. For me one thing stood out and demonstrated again the absolute transformation SF have undergone. In the interview where Adams responds to claims, from named accusers, linking him with the IRA as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘rubbish’, he proceeds to claim:
‘that several figures in the Real IRA – again, he names them, but for legal reasons I can't – are in the pay of the British.’
The leader of a party that stood beside and point blank denied the clear and widely accepted claims of treachery against their trusted comrades Scappaticci and Donaldson took the opportunity to name people as members of the ‘RIRA’ and state they were agents of the British to a journalist. Johann doesn’t tell us if even a little colour came to his cheeks as he named the ‘touts’.

The journalist interviewing recognised the legal constraints of due process and innocent until proven guilty that operate even, to some extent, under the British judicial system and refused to print the names freely offered up by the Sinn Fein President. However, the fact stands that Adams did attempt to put these people's names in the public domain as both IRA members and touts without proffering a shred of evidence.

In days gone by SF have attacked (in more ways than one) those that name people as members of the IRA. They have refuted claims of people being ‘touts’ within the IRA as 'baseless slurs' and accused those making them of being 'agenda driven'. They have demanded proof for every allegation, dismissing and ridiculing those making allegations.

Now their leader makes the very same baseless claims they raged against in the recent past.

The leader of SF, speaking to the media, names people he claims are involved in armed republican struggle and attaches to them the tag ‘British agents’ as if it is the most natural thing in the world for a republican to be doing.

Of course this should be no surprise given other senior SF figures previously ploughed this furrow of briefing against republicans, including those involved in political groups hostile to their stance, by claiming they are in fact involved in armed struggle and/or also ‘touts’ in off the record chats with journalists.

The old adage of 'whatever you say, say nothing', seems to have mutated into 'whatever you say, say it to a journalist' for Sinn Fein. It remains to be seen when SF will move from their frankness in the company of the press and start speaking as openly with their friends in the RUC/PSNI. That’s assuming they haven’t already headed down that road in secret.


  1. Mark, it is good that people find different things to interest them in the Hari interview. It widens our horizons and prevents the 'one size fits all' view holding court. What interested you did not interest me so much at the start but on reading your piece it is indeed a very illuminating approach to take. Good thought inducing piece.


  2. the more I listen to what Adams and other sf spokepersons have to say the more I,m reminded of the early seventies,its all a total rerun of what the sticks used to say about the provies and almost verbatim,maybe Gerry really was,nt in the pira as he was a stick all the time Marty F

  3. Anthony,

    Thanks for the kind words and giving me a space on your blog.

    I'm now a bit unhappy with the piece or at least using it here as my 2nd guest entry. Wish something else had caught my interest over another critique of SF or their leadership. I hate this idea many hold that dissenting republicanism is really just anti-SFism and don't fancy being part of contributing to it.

    If I submit anything else to you it'll have to be crazy out-on-a-limb positive republicanism - wonder what that looks like!

  4. Mark, regardless, it is still a good piece. These are issues that need to be brought out in the open and I think your piece does it very well and constitutes an alternative perspective. To discuss the inconsistencies in SF is not always synonymous with bashing it.

  5. Looking forward to the crazy-out-on-a limb positive Republicanism! The two of you could cook it up,I'm sure. How about anarchist Sinn Fein, with a strong undercurrent of Thoreau? Who will be the future if not you?

  6. PS--It even might be new to suggest that Republicanism could be fun! Add some Abbey Hoffman. "We'll stop making fun of you Brits when you go back home and leave us be to be us."

  7. This comment has been removed by the author.