Crisis of a New Order

For decades it was an awful truth that dared not speak its name. The unspeakable acts perpetrated against children in the family home which Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams shared with his siblings and parents were horrendous. The child victims of what happened in that home are not to blame for what was visited upon them, the extent of which we do not yet know. I did time with many of the Adams clan, both those who lived in the home and cousins. I also worked with others in the Provisional Movement post-release. Despite whatever huge political differences I later grew to have with them, as people, with one or two exceptions, I always found them amiable and a lot less hostile and unpleasant than many others who share their political views.

I did not know Liam Adams and was not aware of any allegations of rape against him up until the Insight documentary. About the only thing I knew on him was that he had been kneecapped in the 1970s. I knew the father, ‘auld Gerry’ as they called him, but only to say hello to on the street. I witnessed him getting nasty at the funeral of Liam Burke in 1995 because he objected to the way the tricolour was being folded prior to the handover of the national flag to the family of the deceased. But ‘grumpy old men’ are what they are so I had no personal reason to take umbrage against him on account of that. Although in the light of Gerry Adams’ comments that his father had besmirched the National flag through his depravity, his objections to how others folded it seemed trite by comparison.

Shortly after ‘auld Gerry’ died I was told that staff in the nursing home where he was had complained that Gerry Adams and other family members did not visit him much. The person telling me added that the reason there was little contact was because ‘auld Gerry’ had abused some of his children. Until this week I never repeated it or passed it on to friends or journalists even in casual conversation. I had not the slightest evidence it was true. Stories like that apart from being a dime a dozen grow legs all too easily and are off on the gallop sustaining themselves when there is nothing else to keep them going. Whatever critiques I mounted against the political strategy of Gerry Adams feeding nastiness of that nature was not part of it. There was little of appeal in the view of some that republican opponents of the party should copy the Sinn Fein tactic of focussing in on people’s personal problems and then smearing their target on the strength of it. What other than poison does that inject into political discourse?

I doubt if any real objection was raised by Gerry Adams to the decision to drape his father’s coffin with the tricolour. He could simply have said the father had confided in him some time before he died that he wanted a ‘civilian’ funeral and not been overruled. Who would have insisted otherwise? A more plausible explanation for the traditional republican send off was that it was part of the cover-up that was put in place to shield Liam Adams. ‘Auld Gerry’ buried without honours would have raised too many questions. Much easier to dupe the thousands who made up the cortege.

That Gerry Adams should only now out his father as a child molester was likely due to the fact that the story was going to break anyway. Fed or not by pre-broadcast leakage from the Insight documentary, it was being predicted in some Belfast circles for almost two weeks prior to Gerry Adams’ announcing it that a sex abuse scandal implicating ‘auld Gerry’ was imminent. Pat Kenny this morning hinted most strongly during his lengthy exchange with Irish News editor, Noel Doran, that Gerry Adams moved before the posse caught up with him. Whatever the intention of Gerry Adams in exposing his father’s wrongdoing the effect has been to cast himself in a soft sympathetic light; he and his wider family now take on the mantle of the victims thus denying Aine Tyrell some of the vital oxygen of publicity. This was followed by Sinn Fein calls for the family to be afforded privacy. Like the recent debate surrounding the Adams handling of the 1981 hunger strike, the intention is to smother any further probing.

In the media there is growing scepticism of Gerry Adams’ explanations. There is a cursory nod made to his personal predicament followed by strong suggestions that he is pursuing a self serving agenda aimed at protecting his political career. Addicted to wielding power, a life without it can only be contemplated as a desolate existence. He has survived every crisis thus far but this is a crisis of a new order. Covering for bank robbers, society can swallow, but as the bishops controversy has shown, covering for child rapists forces society to vomit.


  1. well Anthony cant say anything other than a fair comment ,like everyone else I hope that lass gets justice so as you said we should,nt follow the shinner.s example of throwing muck.mind you while out walking the other day I came across a young lad crying, I asked him what the matter was and he said that his gran had just died, I asked him if he would like me to get him a priest, and he replied ,sex was the last thing on his mind at the moment slan, Marty F

  2. Nothing is going to rock the political boat now. Media are going pretty gently on this. Adams is a real snake at the self preservation game. Don't think anything big will come out of this from SF or the PSNI. The 'RA too dismantled/non existent to raise its head+only Adams+his fellow rats left there.
    The electorate may be unimpressed though, so the next election results could be interesting.

  3. Marty are you so immature that you believe all priests are pedophiles.?
    I'm sure if you degenerate a whole religion because of the despicable actions of a few priests, it makes you feel better.
    Grow up and stop talking nonsense. There are more good priests in the world than bad priests. You seem to ignore that fact.
    However I'm sure your perverse attitude towards the Catholic church will not allow you to change your views.

  4. Hi Jim how do you know, what way do you measure good priest/bad priest. it seems to me that people like yourself think their all good untill that is they get caught,when was the last time you saw a priest on a bike in belfast

  5. oh bye the way Jim I forgot to sign of on that last post I was to busy making sure no pervs were coming down the chimney, well ya can never be to carefull can you Marty F

  6. how adams hasn't resigned now is beyond me he is truely dispicable and those who seek to defend him are like those in listowel who gave the victim the hard time.scum, absolute scum,it reminds me of the time judge curtain was caught with child pornography and the branch fiddled either the arrest warrant or the search warrant to protect him,scum.

  7. For me, this must be an awful time for Gerry Adams, as it would be for any family... although he does carry an extra burden of public leadership. The vast majority of what Gerry Adams has said on this case, I find myself sympathetic to, and also in agreement with. I am even reluctant to make any major comment on it, because I'm not convinced that the public arena is an area where the private lives of any family can be treated with any measure of balance or humanity. Even a victim who has the courage to bring their story to public attention, can sometimes find that their main 'supporters' eventually take the 'story' from her/him, and run with it in ways they never intended.

    For me, the key questions revolve around knowledge about these accusations and possible silence/acquiescence/less than enthusiastic efforts to block a suspected paedophile from engaging in youth work and/or party political activity. It is these questions alone, for me, that should decide whether or not an elected representative should maintain his position, or lose it. Matters that relate to the family alone, should remain between the family and the courts (even British courts that I cannot abide in many other respects). In this case, there is a lack of congruence between the statements of the youth clubs and the statements of Gerry Adams. Until that gap is filled with proper information, it is difficult for me to make any political judgement in this case.

    For me, for Adams to fall on this question would be both wrong (if he has done no wrong), but also futile, insofar as he would not be losing his position because of the 'dismal dividends' from the current political process; which is a more fitting reason for him to lose his power.

    Very good article Mackers.... as usual!

  8. I think when the call is made for him to go as leader and as a public representative because of the poor dividend of the peace process it is a republican argument. I thought he should have gone a long time ago because of that. But society would want him to stay because he delivered what it wanted him to deliver - the end of the IRA and the transformation of SF from a revolutionary to a reformist party.

    The issue which society should demand his leaving the scene results from his role in the current scandal. It is a stand alone issue.

    There is no particular reason other than a republican one for him to leave as a result of his republican failure. There is a societal reason for him to go on the question of how he has handled the scandal. That is why he should fall on that sword rather than the republican one.

  9. There is a part of me that understands that argument Mackers. And I can't deny that you may be right.

    one difficulty I have with it, is that is will give all his friends an opportunity to claim that there is a new beginning politically. And I feel that some of them may be already letting this notion enter their heads (if they have yet to let it settle and take shape)

    But ultimately, if he has done wrong in this particular case (which has yet to be proved or disproved), then I agree, on that particular sword may he fall.

    What I do find remarkable, is that I was able to garner a lot of opinions out or republicans locally two or three weeks ago on the 'evil bishops', but all I can hear now is a silence. For me, this is neither right or wrong, just interesting.

  10. Seán Mór, of course it all depends on the extent of the wrong. No point in screaming at him coz he spat on the street or had one too many while out on the drink. It should be an issue of substance, a reason rather than an excuse to make the call for him to go.
    As for those who wanted rid of the ‘evil bishops’ but have suddenly gone silent - does it really surprise you? It is the attitude of the bovine bunch that made the political capitulation possible. It is hardly going to change to prevent an ethical collapse on the issue of child protection.

  11. Unfortunately, Anthony, Irish society can swallow a fair bit of vomit. I am conscious of how difficult it must be for the victims within the Adams family but Adams very bad handling of the alleged abuse of his niece cannot not be overlooked on the grounds of privacy. Like the Bishops, Adams was in full knowledge that an alleged peadophile had access to young people and he did nothing to stop that.Adams preached republicanism just like the paedophile priests preached catholocism, people followed Adams, lived their lived according to the gospel he spouted just as many Catholics lived their lives according to the gospels spouted by the priests. Just as we cannot ignore the fact that the leaders of the church knew that the same priests whom were preaching 'suffer the little children...' from the pulpit were raping young boys in the sacristy neither can we ignore the fact that whilst Adams was claiming that he had the best interests of the people at heart he knew that an alleged paedophile had access to many young and vulnerable people.Just like the Bishops, his failure to protect his flock should render him an ineffectual leader. His flock should demand his resignation! Regarding the political end of things, it seems to me that the British have been leading Adams by the nose for years. But that's for another day.

  12. KateMcC, Just about sums things up very concisely.

  13. Sean Mor

    Given the context of the damning evidence against Gerrys' role in covering up for his child rapist brother, I cant understand your caution which borders at times on prevarication.

    I think that the facts lay out the case quite clearly against Gerry, not as a political leader, but as a liar complicit in the covering up of child rape and allowing the guilty party to seek access to work with young people.

    Equivocation will only be exploited by those who attempt to squirm a wormhole out for Gerry.