Covering Up the Cover Up

In Belfast’s Balmoral Hotel today, the Sinn Fein commander Gerry Adams took to the podium to address the assembled party faithful regarding the Máiría Cahill controversy that he and his party have been embroiled in since the broadcasting of a BBC Spotlight documentary almost two weeks ago. From the limited snatches provided by RTE he seemed more wilted than blooming. Unlike his arrival in the same hotel in May, straight from the custody of British police who had detained him under the label “murder suspect”, today’s event seemed subdued. Absent was the profuse adoration and adulation from the pews. Although certainly not a requiem mass for his political career, the bishop was preaching to a subdued congregation.  

When parsed, his speech amounted to little more than a concoction of polemic and diatribe hurled in the direction of those who have great difficulty buying into his narrative. Finding some “crat” to blame it on has long been a blood sport for the party’s smear machine and this time it was no different, the indocrats of the Independent News Group being the fox the hounds were set upon.

The rampart Adams tried to establish, and which he hopes is fortified sufficiently to withstand scrutiny, was signposted by the line “Sinn Féin has not engaged in any cover-up of abuse at any level of this party.”

Whatever about the circumstances pertaining to the Mairia Cahill case which Sinn Fein has advised the public to regard as a rape, the manner in which Gerry Adams presented his late father and brother in public make it hard to mount a credible defence that there was no cover up. There clearly was and its purpose was to ensure no depreciation in the value of the brand name. Clothing his father, whom he knew to be a paedophile, in the legitimacy of republicanism at his funeral, and having his brother Liam whom he believed to be a child rapist, seek the party nomination to be its Louth Dail candidate in 1997, are best described as Weapons of Mass Deception. The threat both men posed to children was covered up – literally in the case of the father – with the Irish tricolor.

The spin being put on the matter by Sinn Fein is that the party has never been involved in protecting child abusers. This is true to the extent that the party frowned severely on abuse and approved the sanctions employed against those engaged in it. What was being protected and covered for was the reputation of the party and the IRA. Much the same way that the Irish Catholic Church covered up and was rightly pilloried by Sinn Fein for having done so. The Church held a canon law internal investigation, remained silent about the findings, and relocated the offender - all in a bid to protect the reputation of the institution. Canon Law, IRA code: try getting a cigarette paper between them.

As Gerry Adams last week pointed out, the IRA had a well-established history of policing republican communities in the North. It also had internal disciplinary procedures through which it processed complaints against its members including charges of sexual abuse.

At any time when dealing with these offences the IRA could have, instead of quietly exiling people from the North and forcing them to relocate elsewhere, as easily used tarring and feathering or some other measure that clearly demonstrated to the public that the member had been involved so that there really would be no hiding place for them, no recycling opportunity to start all over again in a different abode safe from the informed apprehensions of the new host community.  It could also have, through the pages of the movement’s newspaper, named and shamed those deemed guilty by the IRA’s internal disciplinary system for the same reason. But to do that would have been a public admission that the IRA or Sinn Fein members were involved in abuse. The reputation of the organisation rather than the abuser per se was prioritised for cover up.

All of which will lead observers to conclude that today’s presidential address was neither an explanation or an expiation, but an excision of clarity:  all about covering up for the cover ups that Sinn Fein have been involved in.


  1. 'Decent' people in the IRA who I was familiar with and admired, continue to amaze me by nothing more than their loyalty to an individual with what has emerged to be such a disgraceful family background. Bull-root idolizers? The mind boggles. It detracts totally any regard for former associates and erases confidence in their former judgement.

    The SF vehicle will be driven into a brick wall at ever increasing speed while Adams remains at the wheel.

    cue the music...
    It's HIS party and he'll wreck it if he wants to!


  2. While reading this piece this old saying came to mind
    “what’s in the cat is in the kitten”

  3. I think its pretty clear by now to all right thinking people that this new -ish attack on Our quisling President for life is just another attempt by anti "peace Process " people to smear the reputation of decent people and the progress that quisling $inn £eind has made in bringing us equality , its time we all "moved on"When the quisling president for life got up to speak in Sid Walsh,s aka P.ONeill,s Balmoral hotel the message that was being received by this reader was that Quisling $inn £eind are now clearly an establishment party and like the "establishment"they have embroiled themselves in sexual abuse scandals,yip your nobody in this world until you have blood and abuse on your hands quisling $inn £eind have both in abundance they are a government in waiting ,,, we are fucked literally ..

  4. It is interesting to see all those screaming due process regarding the man accused of attacking Ms Cahill are silent on any notion of Due Process for Adams Senior, who, having been used for a PR exercise at a republican funeral, ended up being denounced by the same son that had him go to his grave covered by a tricolour. At a very convenient time - cue crocodile tears.

  5. You've touched on something there Larry which often gets lost in this, there is a difference between that corrupt leadership and the IRA itself. The IRA as an organisation did not do these things, it was a powerful cabal at the top that surrounds Adams.

    I read in an exchange elsewhere the claim that every Brigade Area had its 'issues' but it's fair to say none were akin to the happenings in West Belfast. Even at that it seems responsibility lies with those grouped around Gerry Adams and not the movement itself, though perhaps in that part of the world there is no difference, I wouldn't know.

    The entire organisation in Belfast and indeed everywhere else is being incriminated due to the actions of a few and that is perplexing. Perhaps that's something we have to accept part responsibility for given the ceding of such a level of control to what's turned out a particularly nasty group of individuals. Perhaps we should have known better.

    In any other organisation a man with such extraordinary baggage would be removed for the sake of the party but not with Sinn Fein it seems. Ed touched on it in his piece - it's likely because his position as leader protects him from whatever the Brits have on him and have yet to reveal.

    Whatever happens to Adams and Sinn Fein - as a political entity - I couldn't really care, though like everyone else given his record of debauchery it would be galling to see him make Tansaiste or even higher office. I would though like to see those involved in this case held accountable to their peers - including Gerry Adams. They've misappropriated, and not for the first time, army resources to serve their own private interests and that's a breach of the constitution in its own right.

    We are sickened by what has been done on Mairia Cahill but also by how their disgusting actions have yet again fed the criminalisation of the republican struggle and those who gave everything for the cause of Irish freedom. The good name of the Provisional IRA has been dragged through the mud by these scumbags who seem to think the organisation existed for their advancement rather than the other way round.

    If their actions in this shameful, shameful case - among others of course - were to impact on the legacy of the IRA and its worthy campaign to resist the terrorism of the British state then that in itself is every bit big a crime as the terrible abuse, both physical and emotional, meted out to Mairia Cahill and in all instances those with responsibility need held to account

  6. Apology..When the quisling $inn £eind President for life got up to speak in the Balmoral hotel I meant to say it is part owned by Sidney Walsh aka P.O.Neill,s bro. seems to be the new Thatcher House for West Belfasts socialist elite ...loads of bedrooms to for whatever...

  7. sean bres says,

    "Perhaps that's something we have to accept part responsibility for given the ceding of such a level of control to what's turned out a particularly nasty group of individuals. Perhaps we should have known better."

    Who is the 'we' Sean?
    Could you be more specific please?

    What part do you now accept responsibility for?

    And which parts do you not accept responsibility for ?

    And when 'Perhaps we should have known better' what kind of Perhaps ?

    Your over-all tone Sean comes across as just more 'hedging' and avoidance of accountability on your own behalf too.

  8. Well said Sean a cara maybe we should get the Catholic church to investigate the allegations of sex abuse cover ups within the republican movement..or have mi5 conduct an inquiry into sexual abuse within the political establishment here ..the end game is that those cunts who stand by the perpetrators of these deeds,by their words and actions /inactions are as every bit as guilty as the bastards who committed the vile deed in the first place , and as we now know from Kincora the "establishment "will issue humble apologies promise lots, but no justice.. in other words Adams will remain in place as leader of the quisling $inn £eind party as long as he is useful to the suits who really run the show ...ask any Kincora victim ..

  9. sean bres also says,

    "....who seem to think the organisation existed for their advancement rather than the other way round."

    The other way round, to exist solely for the advancement of the organisation or the 'cause', though not exploitive of others, is still essentially fundamentalist and cultist too!

  10. Sean,

    the "corrupt leadership" of the IRA got away with what the IRA let it get away with. I don't think we can sustain the argument that there was a Chinese wall separating them. The IRA grassroots took policing over the line and every other move the leadership made. I used to think the argument could be made for a conservative leadership out to screw a radical grassroots. It was wrong. It could no longer be sustained after the grassroots came out cheering decommissioning or pretending it didn't happen.

  11. Sean, Simon made some of the same points you made in an earlier posting on a different 'thread' about the same subject...

  12. Sean

    Anyone still there at Adams' side at this stage is rotten to the core of the earth. Stop trying to resurrect a dead entity. FFS let it die slowly. Adams is a Brit creation and they are now murdering him, media assisted, slowly on a global stage. He is that self obsessed he can't even see it. 'So, so close to a Dail Cabinet Post ...but not close enough' will be on his 'tombstone'.

    I personally hope he hangs doggedly on in there. After the way volunteers were strung out for years on end with the poxy piss-process, I'm really getting into gear now enjoying Adams' never ending predicaments just now. Roll on the New Year CAN'T WAIT. Don't resign Gerry ffs!!!

    Boyne Rove

    While reading this piece this old saying came to mind
    “what’s in the cat is in the kitten”

    The Adams Tom Cat was 'IN' all the kittens....don't you think?

  13. Zero desire to feed the troll. Swiftly moving on I understand what you're saying Tony but I still believe we should draw the distinction.

    In terms of the broader argument in play here maybe I'm blinkered when it comes to this and the Machiavellian associations attached to the Adams leadership are arguably a convenient excuse for failures we ourselves partook in and need to shoulder more responsibility for. At the end of the day you're right, we implemented their policy and decisions at a local level through our own structures (albeit with it all fully under their control) and maybe it's not enough to simply blame 'Belfast'.

    Maybe we should have questioned more - even though when we did we got the glare from local enforcement as cue to shut up. Maybe we should have known better than to listen to Spike and Leo and Paddy Doc and whoever else they sent to keep us onboard, maybe we need to look more at ourselves in all of this, it's certainly a fair argument.

    Really we all share the responsibility but I still think some more so than others and there's a heavy skew in that pyramid towards those at the very top. They were very clever at what they were doing and how they 'managed' the republican movement at every strata.

    In terms of all that the lessons to learn are clear but I don't believe covering and concealing sex crimes was the policy of the republican movement - as Tommy tried to point out the other night - just as the prolonging of the Hungerstrikes was not the IRA's doing either.

    The blame in both instances here rests with those who usurped the function and authority of the republican movement for selfish interests, whatever the merits of that wider argument yourself and Niall touched on the other night. To that extent it's devastating to see the reputation of the IRA dragged through the gutter because of those individuals we're talking about

  14. the thing that made me go; gulp - oh oh, eek, these lads are fuc*ing dangerous dangerous bastards, was last year when i read what happened to christin ni elias (an absolute lady by all accounts). ive an awful feeling we dont know how unbelievably fuc*ed the 'movement' has been for decades now. nervous breakdown stuff. ps henry joy mccrackehead, ur a pain in the troll.

  15. Sean,

    you are under no obligation to debate with anyone who wants to expose you to risks that they won't expose themselves to. Invisible people, invisible rights is one of the rules of thumb here. Anonymity should only be used for one thing - disseminating an idea. It should not be abused as a shield to protect the user while they have a go at those who display the fortitude to stand over what they say. Our commenters know the score. If they abuse it they go, a facility we use with the utmost reluctance.

    The higher up the food chain in an organisation you go the greater the degree of responsibility.

    The type of general responsibility you cite and oppose is not applied to our opponents by us. If an individual screw or cop does something wrong, it is used to tarnish the entire institution. The distinction you draw is never applied. I think it is something we all do.

    I think all of us who were there, who knew the procedures, understood how things worked, need to take responsibility for what the organisation did. We can't state with any credibility that we were unaware that the IRA was dealing with all manner of cases brought against some of its own members. It had to include allegations of sexual abuse. The IRA is no more immune to life than other institutions. We might as individuals not have been involved in the processing of such complaints but we either heard about them, or about people exiled on foot of an IRA finding. Why would the IRA back in the day not deal with such matters? It would have been out of character with the IRA were it not to have dealt with them.

  16. The points Simon raised Sean are here..

    Crux (for me) is when he said...

    This particular incident happened during a period of change in Republicanism and although I agree that it was "horrific" the best police forces in the world make awful mistakes and the internal investigations by an organisation unskilled, unprepared and untrained was always going to give rise to bigger mistakes.

    To understand the enormity of the mess victims find themselves in we have to remember that people don't magically stop having the potential to sexually abuse once they join the IRA so proportionately there must be similar percentages of that organisation as there are sex offenders in wider society. Extrapolate that and the investigations that may or may not even have taken place you can see the enormity of the problem.