Gerry may go …. for the good of the party

Tommy McKearney reflects on the political future of Sinn Fein president, Gerry Adams. His piece initially featured on his own blog

The harsh logic of pragmatic political calculation may lead to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams stepping down from his position sooner rather than in 2016 as predicted by many commentators. While the media storm surrounding BBC documentary The Disappeared and fall-out resulting from Liam Adam’s conviction have discomfited Mr. Adams, these events alone will not cause his resignation. However, expectation and anticipation within the party as it prepares for the next general election in the Republic may be a different matter.

With February 2016 as the last possible date for a general election, there will be a new Dail before the Easter Rising’s centenary celebrations. Sinn Fein is practically assured of significantly improving on its current 14 seats but has little chance of winning an overall majority. Since no other party is likely to do so either, the next government will also be a coalition, forcing Sinn Fein to make some hardheaded assessments.

Short of a sudden and unexpected improvement to the economy, the current coalition partners will not secure sufficient support between them to form another administration. This means that the next government in the Republic will be composed of two or more from among, Fine Gael, Fianna Fail, Sinn Fein, the Labour Party and/or a number of independent TDs. Therefore, no matter how the political deck is shuffled, Sinn Fein will be needed to form a majority unless that is; Fine Gael and Fianna Fail agree to pair off.

There is a problem for Sinn Fein in this and that is its president. No other party and especially Fianna Fail can afford to have Gerry Adams sitting on the government front bench as Tánaiste. The reason is not because of the difficulties surrounding the McConville or Liam Adams cases (that is already discounted) but for two other reasons.

First, there is a real fear among other political parties that some new nasty ‘Gerry-related’ story may present itself unexpectedly, and after his 50 years in radical politics, that cannot be ruled out. The membership of Fianna fall and Labour would not be prepared to stoically endure the bemused scorn of the mass media dealing with difficult to accept denials. Another, and probably even more profound difficulty for a Fianna Fail Taoiseach would be the simple fact that sharing the front bench with Gerry Adams would lead to him being entirely eclipsed by the Sinn Fein president. Micheal Martin cannot afford, nor would his party tolerate, the general public and international media asking who is that man with a receding hairline sitting beside Gerry Adams?

Unlike Sinn Fein, Fianna Fail has the political option of entering coalition with Fine Gael. The two parties are compatible, having almost identical economic and social policies. Moreover, the idea of working together has recently been mooted by senior members of both organisations. Old Civil War animosities have dissipated over the years and would dissolve amidst widespread rejoicing over ‘a long overdue reconciliation’.

Sinn Fein has now to decide whether it wishes to participate in the next government or remain on the opposition benches. Does it wish to have its party leader stand and accept the salute beside the Taoiseach on the reviewing stand before the GPO on Easter Sunday 2016 or watch on from a much less prominent position? If the young, capable, not to mention ambitious Sinn Fein TDs want to be in Cabinet in the next Dail and reap the additional benefit of Centenary celebrations, they must decide soon on who leads the party into the next election. No political party can change management in the run up to such a major challenge. It takes time for a new leader to establish his or her authority and time will also be required to heal wounds that inevitably follow a leadership contest.

Pressure from a younger generation of potential leaders recently caused Gerry Adams to make a dramatic U-turn on his personal position in relation to the Senate referendum. A similar strike could force him to accept the inevitable and stand aside in the interests of the party and logic would dictate that this must be sooner rather than later.


  1. There is an article in The Economist that basically ends with the same reasoning that Tommy McK made..

    Almost every day seems to bring fresh controversy and contempt. Sinn Fein strategists, with an eye on the fate of Ireland, are likely to consider whether he has attracted too much opprobrium and ought to be eased out.

  2. Tommy mo chara
    That was a brilliant and insightful post. My own opinion is that, that megalomaniac Adams will not step down before 1916. He will want to be there when SF tell people how far along the road they (SF) have took them. (Absolutely nowhere), though He, and his clique will try to tell people otherwise. I like your take on FF and FG forming a coalition (wouldn't surprise me), it would be like the Tories and Labour forming a coalition in Britain, that wouldn't surprise me either, seeing as their policies are almost identical. I think the smell of what the Great One was involved in will put the Free State parties off for the time being.

  3. Gerry Adams is probably best placed to lead sinn fein into the next elections in the free state, As leader of sinn fein, with the centenary of 1916 comes political nationalist and republican nostalgia Sinn Fein should do remarkably well at the poles! , the The television newspaper and radio media will be replay the easter rising ,the subsequent rise of sinn fein , the tan war/national war of liberation and sadly the civil war between pro partition and anti partition republicans.Sinn Fein will do very well from these elections and the closer to 1916 the elections the better they will do.
    Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail in government? a marriage made in heaven.Fianna fail started out as an anti partition party who embraced the border and so have sinn fein.
    In ten years time fianna fail will have moved further to the right and sinn fein will be a solely nationalist slightly left of centre constitutional party which indeed it has already become. I see no socialism in Sinn Fein just another SDLP Fina Fail in the making.If
    I was Adams id stay on for the memory of being the leader of Sinn Fein in 2016!

  4. If there were a God above I might agree with you Tommy but the demigod Adams will not depart quietly.

    Sure, there are pressures from within and below for further sanitisation of the party's image in the run-up to the next Leinster House elections, maybe even before the next local government ones too. However the demigod is unlikely to acquiesce.
    The Provisional Movement under Adams has been totalitarian and is still likely to remain so. Of course that's not to say some machinations might not be already being hatched to allow Adams to leave his current centre-stage role. The important thing will be that this will not be seen as an exercise in political expediency.

    So lets see how they're going to manage this one!
    They're in a bit of a bind insofar as they can't disappear him, not even metaphorically. So yes, maybe we can expect some 'unexpected' disclosures - maybe there are some serious health concerns to be revealed about the 'leader' or his immediate family in the not too distant future? Or some 'international' junket or appointment, anything that would appear to elevate his status (whilst at the same time allowing a graceful exit of Leinster House) might be arranged?

    A new leader in the southern parliament? Very likely.
    Adams to relinquish his Presidency of the Provisional Movement before 2016? Not a chance!

  5. Tommy I am hopeful that that scumbag bastard is no longer with us in 2016. There is absolutely zero chance of him being in government whether he has died or not. As a former volunteer I look forward to dancing on his grave. This is not something I would normally ever consider but in the case of Gerry Adams a cowardly cunt who rolled many a snow ball, though threw none, I will make an acception. He said on the program about the disappeared that some republicans believe him to be a traitor. I also used to think likewise of him but have realised how wrong I was, because it has always been about that scum and his ego/ambition, at no point has he ever sold out on the promoting himself. When I think of all the men, women and children that died and for what, promoting the
    Gerry Adams brand and new SF. Shame on all who endorse this disgusting human being, then again most of them are payed to keep it together for thier master.
    It would be a shame if this man was burried in a republican plot with men and women that had the guts to get behind a gun or plant a bomb. If I had a relative burried in the republican plot I would be objecting to that dirtbird being put anywhere near it.

  6. If he goes it will be due to internal pressure not external.
    He has weathered all these storms because the old boy network and the 'genius' think tank at the heart of Sinn Fein tolerate him.
    His brand of Republicanism is the only brand they want to hear.
    He has tolerated their deviation from every aspect of Republican Socialism and in return, they, the powers that be tolerate him.
    He suits them and they suit him.

  7. Tommy.

    I think you got this one wrong regarding Adams stepping aside or do you know something we don't is something on the agenda to have him step down , or removed?.

    He has to many faces to step down , he will be hoping to get into government at the next general election, that's his aim, and nothing else, he cares about no one but himself. That's the bottom line of this guy.

  8. Tommy-

    All in good time I suppose in relation to Gerry leaving the president of Sinn Fein post-no hurt nor harm will come to Sinn Feins door over the leadership of Gerry and if all goes will he should be made honorary president when the dawn of his stepping down comes-Gerry moving to louth raised the prospect of Sinn Fein being in government in the 32-his staying on top will make sure that day will come-


    That tape that was used in evidence against Gerry Adams on the BBC documentary the disappeared-that was part of the boston college tapes-or was it just a Dark spin off-

  9. I am unsure as to whether Adams can be removed, the Free State establishment will attack him relentlessly and his party representatives every time they open their mouths, but, this will only appeal to loyalties forged back when Unionists would attack Sinn Féin when SF were a Republican Party. The younger SInner can be motivated by this and it can become a source of motivation if manipulated right.

    The important thing about the south is the more representative Sinn Féin become of a middle to upper class conservative southern electorate the less influence they can have in the Working class districts they are dying out of.
    The higher they rise in the south the sooner they will be gone from interference in our communities.


  10. After reading and listening to the who said what ,who done what , who goes here and who goes were ,who do we believe is telling the most believable lies , and was Gerry Adams in The Sacred Heart Sodality or some form of cult . To date Sinn Fein seemed to confirm Gerry’s version of the truth, but in the Irish News a now former friend of the inner circle of Sinn Fein has given us the most damning truthful answer to the time honoured question about Gerry and his association with the IRA.
    A former hunger striker Lorny McKeown has defended Gerry Adams's position on the Disappeared but said he would "plead the fifth Amendment" on whether the Sinn Fein president was in the IRA. It will be interesting to know the thoughts of the Shinners about Lorny and whether he qualifies as a tout same as The Dark

  11. Boyne Rover-

    " it will be interesting to know the thoughts of the Shinners about Lorny "

    He is well thought of-I look forward to his new project about the RUC being replaced by the PSNI now that the war is over-
    Its a wild pity that the Dark and price could not have claimed the 5th before they met their maker-I hope they don't have that much of a dark price to pay in the next worlds-

    Gerry Adams helped to carry the darks coffin before the truth of the darks book and tape were made public-but his whispers made no difference to anything-

  12. Michael Henry,
    Adams knew what was said long before Brendan died.
    He had people scurrying around Belfast trying to salvage his reputation
    He had people rapping doors and asking for accounts, he was crapping himself but the bubble still burst.
    He wanted that link kept with Brendan at all costs. The propaganda bureau could bring Brendan down so Adams had to go with the flow.
    He choreographed his false friendship for the press .
    He dropped them when they were living but he wants to carry them when dead?

  13. Mr Henry
    Its a wild pity that Gerry Adams could not have claimed the 5th before he denied he was a member of Óglaigh na hÉireann is it not?

  14. Nuala,

    they even bugged his flat.

  15. Boyne,

    I guess many will be annoyed that he did not join in the organised lying that we have witnessed this past while back.

  16. Mackers,
    I know! It must have broke his heart.

  17. I reckon Adams will hang on to 2016 and his party will use the occasion to compare - well try to compare - their leader with the likes of Connolly and Pearse.

    That crowd has no shame and watching the send off will be like trying to drink a bottle of vinegar. Although I'd say there will be quite a few more senior clapping seals who are inwardly glad to see the arse of him.

    Trying to flush a turd which won't go away while others wait to use the toilet can be a trying experience and I'm certain many of those clapping seals know what it feels like as they do likewise in regards to questions about their leader.

  18. Spotlight are asking the same question tonight on BBC 1

    Gerry Adams has led Sinn Fein to political triumph. In the wake of recent controversies, Jennifer O'Leary assesses whether Adams is still a help or if he has become a hindrance to the party's pursuit of power.