Anthony McIntyre on why he thinks Gerry Adams is cooking up an Aras recipe with his soon to be launched book on cookery.
Adams told his West Belfast audience that during negotiations, "the British never fed us. They never had any food." Jonathan Powell in his book Great Hatred Little Room observed that the first item on the Adams menu was that the British had no menu: he persistently insisted on being fed. While Gerry might claim that was some sort of personal revenge for the famine, that should be treated much as his claim to have worn a Bobby Sands T-shirt beneath his outer garments during talks in Downing Street.
Adams tells us that recipes in the book are what helped sustain the Sinn Fein negotiating team. But like hugging trees and bouncing naked on trampolines this is to be treated more as gimmickry and less as cookery.
Fionola Meredith, a cooking aficionado, is pretty much appalled at what is on the menu. Speaking of the erstwhile Provisional IRA chief of staff she asserts:
he has also convinced many people that he is, in fact, a cuddly, eccentric and genial old grandad who likes nothing better than playing with his toy ducks in the bath and bouncing in the nude with his dog on the garden trampoline.
He's just a harmless, caring, progressive, good-hearted man, who also happens to be a fan of the poet and civil rights champion Maya Angelou. What a darling.
This weird cook book is merely the latest episode in a long vanity process of revisionism, selective editing and blatant self-mythologising by Mr Adams, which often seems to be deployed strategically as a convenient distraction from awkward political issues.
While right, arguably there is a fuller explanation in terms of the purpose of the strategic deployment. Meredith tilts towards a reading of the past rather than the future.
Sinn Fein is putting up a candidate against Michael D Higgins in the forthcoming presidential election. Adams' name will not be in the hat this time around. A stalking horse will be put out just to keep the challenger’s seat hot. Adams remains much too toxic to have any chance of winning but that might change in seven years time when the field will be more open sans the almost insurmountable hurdle posed by a sitting incumbent, and one as popular as Michael D. If the right to vote in presidential elections is extended to the diaspora, Adams must fancy his chances of coming up on the inside track.
Mary Lou’s role in this is to act as sanitiser: a clean pair of hands that have left no finger prints at the scene of the crime so to speak. If she manages to successfully clean up the party’s image, take a broom to the cupboard’s skeletons and its bullies, allow the image of the culinary chef rather than the military chief to marinade over the next seven years, then its is a tide that will lift all boats.
Adams for his own part will hope that in the public mind the mundane matters of cookery books will help displace the murderous, that the aroma of spices will mask the malodour of decomposition. Seven years is a long time in politics.
Anthony McIntyre blogs @ The Pensive Quill.