Tag Archives: Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams to stand down as Sinn Féin leader

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams says he will retire next year after 34 years as chief of the Irish nationalist party in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

“His ultimate goal of a united Ireland is still elusive,” Reuters reported. “But the party he leaves is not only the dominant Irish nationalist force in the British-ruled province, but also strong enough across the border in the Irish Republic to have a chance of entering government there, too.”

Adams was first elected Sinn Féin leader in 1983, midway through The Troubles, when the party operated as the IRA’s political wing. As such, he became “the face of the IRA” for many in Britain and Northern Ireland. But he remained in the position through the peace process and Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

Adams spent most of his career as an abstentionist MP representing West Belfast. In 2011, he moved to the Republic and won a seat in the Dail representing Louth.

His retirement announcement comes at the end of a year that began with the January resignation of political partner Martin McGuinness as First Minister of the Northern Ireland Assembly, the nationalist-unionist power-sharing government. That decision resulted in the Assembly being dissolved for new elections, but months later the body has not yet been restored.

McGuinness died in March and was replaced by Michelle O’Neil as Northern leader. Mary Lou McDonald is widely expected  to replace Adams.

Adams said he and McGuinness had agreed to an exit plan last year. “Leadership means knowing when it is time for change and that time is now,” he said during his announcement.

Adams at National Press Club, 1998


This framed photo of Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams hangs at the National Press Club in Washington D. C., and is from his May 1998 appearance. I noticed it the other day while having lunch at the historic venue. Here is video of Adam’s speech shortly after passage of the Good Friday Agreement. 

This is also a test of the WordPress app, which I’m using for the first time to increase my blogging power in advance of an upcoming trip to Ireland.

Irish election results, north and south

More than two months after an inconclusive election in the Republic of Ireland, a new minority government has been established. Enda Kenny is the first Fine Gael leader to secure successive terms as taoiseach and also is the first European premier to survive the bailout era, The Irish Times reports, adding “the race to succeed him [as party leader] is well under way.”

After suffering heavy losses in the 28 February election, Kenny and Fine Gael party returned to power with the backing of nine independent lawmakers and the cooperation its main rival, Fianna Fail, which agreed to abstain from opposition on key votes until the end of 2018. The deal emerged a week ago, and there is already speculation the arrangement will not survive.

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Enda Kenny

Here’s a look at the ministers in Kenny’s new cabinet, announced 6 May.

Northern Ireland

After two days of counting, all 108 seats have been decided in the Northern Ireland Assembly elections, Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) retained 38 seats; Sinn Féin lost one seat, dropping to 28; Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) was flat at 16 seats; Social Democratic and Labor Party (SDLP) fell to 12 seats, down two; and the Alliance Party remained at eight seats. Smaller parties picked up three seats, for a total of six.

“The power of the largest parties has been maintained, while newer parties running on nicher subjects with no connection to Northern Ireland’s traditional religious divide are rapidly rising,” the London-based New Statesman said.

For example, Gerry Carroll of the anti-austerity People Before Profit topped polls in the republican heartland of West Belfast, winning the Sinn Féin constituency once held by party leader Gerry Adams. Adams moved to the Republic and was elected TD for Louth in 2011, then re-elected in February.

The Times offers full constituency results for Northern Ireland, where turnout was just below 55 percent.

Fact-checking Irish (and U.S.) elections

UPDATE: A day after our post, below, Poynter.org published a story about TheJournal.ie’s political fact-checking operation, and the Duke Reporter’s Lab also updated their global list to reflect the effort in Ireland.

ORIGINAL POST:

It’s campaign season in Ireland. Voters are bombarded by bold statements about:

In the heated run to Ireland’s 26 February general election, the rhetoric about such issues can create more confusion than clarity, especially when delivered by office-seeking politicians. Who can sort it out?

TheJournal.ie is “testing the truth of claims made by candidates and parties on the campaign trail” by deploying fact-check or accountability journalism; described by a recent U.S. study as “news organizations producing content that is branded under a special title and rates or judges the accuracy of claims by politicians and government officials.”

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Political fact-checking organizations in America include PolitiFact.com*, FactCheck.org, and the Washington Post‘s Fact Checker. They are busy with the 2016 presidential primary.

TheJournal.ie was not among 75 active fact-checking services around the world in an October update by the Duke Reporters’ Lab, though the Dublin-based website appears to have been doing such reporting since at least in 2014. Wikipedia describes the 6-year-old online-only news service as “a mixture of original and aggregated content in a manner similar to The Huffington Post.” 

(Fact Check Northern Ireland, a fledgling effort on Twitter at @FactCheckNI, does not have an active website.)

Of course, there’s also plenty of conventional and social media coverage of the Irish elections. The Irish Times is pumping out stories and analysis, plus the Inside Politics podcasts. The Irish Independent has pages of campaign reporting, including constituency profiles and a “social media wall” with tweets from @EndaKennyTD@GerryAdamsSF and other political leaders. RTÉ also offers podcasts, polls and features. And others.

Irish voters, like those in America who have to slog through a much, much longer election cycle, have no excuse for being uninformed when they go to the polls. Political fact checkers are helping sort out the truth.

*Disclosure: My lovely wife is editor of PolitiFact.com.

Popular broadcaster Terry Wogan dies at 77

Sir Terry Wogan, a Limerick-born star of the British Broadcasting Corporation, died 31 January after a short bout with cancer. He was 77. Read the BBC’s obituary.

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In The Guardian, Martin Kettle writes that Wogan rarely drew explicit attention to his Irishness.

And yet, although he lived, worked and died in Britain, was knighted by the Queen, and was never reluctant to wave the union jack when the needs of the BBC required it, his Irishness was there whenever he opened his mouth. For more than 40 years he was probably the most prominent Irish person, and certainly the most familiar Irish voice, in Britain, rivaled for fame only by [footballer] George Best and Bono, neither of whom could match Wogan’s length of time in the spotlight.

…Whether he liked it or not, Wogan was a significant Irish presence in Britain right through the era of Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley. To some Irish nationalist eyes that may perhaps brand him as someone who made dubious accommodations with Britishness at a sensitive time. To his British listeners, however, and possibly to many of his Irish ones too, Wogan was a reminder that there was also much more to the British-Irish relationship than nationalist and loyalist politics, and that people on both sides of the Irish Sea have more in common than some of them sometimes like to pretend.

Irish Times columnist Martin Doyle wrote that “Ireland has had no finer ambassador to Britain.” Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny said Wogan “acted in no small way as a bridge between Ireland and Britain.”

Gerry Adams and Prince Charles shake hands

This is the third “historic handshake” between Irish republicans and the royal family.

Irish Times coverage here. BBC coverage here.

Prince Charles’ great-uncle,  Lord Mountbatten, was killed nearly 36 years ago in an IRA bombing near Mullaghmore in County Sligo.

Charles and his wife, Duchess of Cornwall Camilla Parker Bowles, are visiting Ireland for four days.

Adams: “I was not a member of the IRA”

The CBS News program 60 Minutes has landed a rare interview with Gerry Adams. It airs Easter Sunday, 5 April.

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Snippets of the interview are being released early to drive interest in the broadcast and have already generated news headlines, such as this story in the Irish Independent. Here’s the 60 Minutes website and video clip.

“I don’t disassociate myself from the IRA,” Adams says. “I think the IRA was a legitimate response to what was happening here. I never will [disassociate himself from the IRA]. But I was not a member of the IRA.”

Long New Yorker story about Adams short on new material

UPDATE:

The author followed up his story with a post about how Hillary Clinton joined Adams at the Irish American Hall of Fame event in New York on 16 March. He wonders if the presumed Democratic presidential nominee “felt any distaste at the prospect of sharing a table with Adams” and “whether you can bring enduring peace and security without some reckoning—by all parties in the conflict—with the crimes of the past.”

The post reads like a last ditch attempt to breath life into a piece that was DOA. For all the calculated timing to coincide with St. Patrick’s Day, it doesn’t appear this story will have much impact.

ORIGINAL POST:

I’ve just finished reading Patrick Radden Keefe’s 15,000-word piece in The New Yorker about Gerry Adams and the Jean McConville murder.

“Where  the Bodies Are Buried” could be a good introductory piece for those who are unfamiliar with Adams and the Troubles. But if you’ve been following the story for decades, as I have, there’s nothing new here. It’s a big rehash of well-known events from 1970s Belfast to contemporary reporting of Adams’ Twitter habits and controversial comments at a Friends of Sinn Féin fundraiser in New York City last fall.

Chris Steele-Perkins photographed Divis Flats, a republican stronghold in Belfast, during the late 1970s. More images at The New Yorker.

Chris Steele-Perkins photographed Divis Flats, a republican stronghold in Belfast, during the late 1970s. More images at The New Yorker.

Keefe’s story is generating a few headlines about Adams’ allegedly ordering McConville’s 1972 disappearance and murder, as well as a 1974 bombing campaign in London. The charges are primarily attributed to Dolours Price, a former IRA member who died in 2013. It’s all been previously reported and denied by Adams, who did not comment for this article.

The New Yorker‘s website also features a photo essay, “Life in Divis Flats,” by Magnum photographer Chris Steele-Perkins. It’s worth clicking through.

Best of the Blog, 2014

This is my second annual “Best of the Blog,” a look at some of the most important news stories, historical anniversaries and personal favorite posts of the past year. The posts are not numbered to avoid the appearance of rank. They follow below this “Happy Christmas from Ireland” video, produced by Dublin documentary filmmaker Cathal Kenna. It features views from each of the Irish island’s 32 counties. Enjoy!

And now, here are the stories:

  • One of the biggest stories of the year in Ireland involved protests over water charges. As Irish Times columnist Fintan O’Toole wrote, “If the Irish are finally catching the mood of anti-austerity anger that has been rolling across much of the European Union, it may be a case not so much of the straw that broke the camel’s back as the drop that caused the dam to burst.” … Less controversial, the Irish postal system is also bracing for modernization in 2015.
  • On a personal note, my wife and I moved to Washington, D.C. this year, which allowed me to get more active in Irish news and history. I’ve met some great people and enjoyed numerous events as a member of Irish Network DC. … My book, “His Last Trip: An Irish American Story,” found a home at the Carnegie Library and the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh; the Pennsylvania Trolley Museum in Washington, Pa.; the Archives of Irish America in New York; and the County Kerry Library in Tralee. … A version of the story about my grandfather Willie Diggin also was published by History Ireland.
  • I came across two new books about County Kerry: “Forging a Kingdom: The GAA in Kerry 1884-1934” by Richard McElligott; and “The Kerry Girls: Emigration and the Earl Grey Scheme” by Kay Maloney Caball.
  • 2014 was the centennial of gun running operations at Larne (Ulster Volunteers) and Howth (Irish Volunteers), as well as the start of the Great War. … It also marked the 100th anniversary of the passage and suspension of Home Rule in Ireland. … October was the 90th anniversary of the closing of the Lartigue monorail in Kerry. … This year also was the 20th anniversary of the historic 1994 IRA ceasefire.
  • This year’s scandals included reporting (and misreporting) about infant and child deaths, illegal adoptions and vaccine trials at Catholic-run mother-and-baby homes in the early-to-middle 20th century. … Gerry Adams spent a few nights in custody about the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a widow wrongly suspected of informing against the IRA. He also faced criticism about how he handled, or mishandled, allegations of rape by members of the IRA.
  • Organizers of St. Patrick’s Day parades in New York and Boston may have banned gays from marching for the last time in 2014. It now appears a gay veterans group will march in Boston and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has welcomed gays in New York for 2015. … The 55th annual Rose of Tralee winner Maria Walsh revealed she was lesbian the day after being crowned. It wasn’t a big deal.
  • Ian Paisley, “the ultimate Orangeman,” died at 88. … Albert Reynold, a former Irish prime minister active in the Northern Ireland peace process, died at 81.
  • After a record-setting 18-month gap, the Obama administration finally nominated (and the Senate approved) St. Louis trial lawyer Kevin O’Malley as Ambassador to Ireland. … Former Senator Gary Hart was named U.S. Special Envoy to Northern Ireland, helping with a year-end deal in the province. … Kerry T.D. Jimmy Deenihan has been named Ireland’s first Minister of State for the Diaspora. … Emigration continued to be a major concern in Ireland, and some wondered if those who have left the country should be able to participate in elections back home.
  • Kerry won the All-Ireland Championship.

Gerry Adams’ poor history threatens all journalists

What to make of Gerry Adams’ recent observations about Michael Collins’ tactics with the critical media of nearly 100 years ago? Speaking at a $500-a-plate Friends of Sinn Féin fundraiser in New York City, he said:

He [Collins] went in, sent volunteers in, to the [newspaper] offices, held the editor at gunpoint, and destroyed the entire printing press. That’s what he did. Now I can just see the headline in the Independent tomorrow, I’m obviously not advocating that.

As context, Adams and the Irish Independent have feuded for years. Now Adams is feeling extra pressure related to the Mairia Cahill abuse scandal.

According to the Independent:

…there is no evidence that Michael Collins or any of his followers held a gun to the editor of the Irish Independent/Freeman’s Journal. In 1919, a crowd of IRA men smashed the printing presses because of the newspaper’s criticisms; in 1922, Rory O’Connor, a Republican leader, smashed the presses because the newspaper was pro-Michael Collins.

Regardless the historical inaccuracy of Adams’ remark, the Independent‘s editors and other journalists in Ireland and elsewhere are outraged by the comment. An Independent editorial said:

If Mr Adams knew a little bit more about the Republic, he might understand the sensitivities of the Irish media about journalists being held at gunpoint. Someone might tell Mr Adams that Veronica Guerin, a crusading journalist, wife and mother, was murdered at gunpoint.Mr Adams might also recall that the courageous journalist Martin O’Hagan, who was kidnapped by the IRA, was shot by their terrorist kissing cousins the LVF.

The National Union of Journalists’ Irish organizer Seamus Dooley told the Independent his group opposes threats to journalist from politicians.

The price of seeking election is accepting that you will be held to account. Mr Adams is free to dislike the Sunday Independent but he is not free to threaten or use bullying language towards journalists. It is ironic that he should make his comments in America, where freedom of expression is prized. I also would remind Mr Adams that journalists are workers who deserve the right to be treated with dignity in the conduct of their job. If he has a complaint, let him lodge a complaint with the Press Ombudsman.

Joel Simon of the US-based Committee to Protect Journalists told the Independent:

While we realize Gerry Adams was joking when he made a remark about ‘holding an editor at gunpoint’, we are not amused. We are living through a period of record violence against journalists around the world. Quite simply this is not a laughing matter.

To date, neither of the media organizations has issued statements on their websites to bolster their comments reported by the Independent. And other than IrishCentral‘s coverage of the dinner, I haven’t seen any U.S. media reaction to Adams’ remarks.

Adams tells the same story about Collins and the press in his personal blog without the qualification that he is “obviously not advocating that.” He uses the episode and other stories of violence from Ireland’s revolutionary period to expose the hypocrisy of contemporary politicians who praise Collins but “ignore the brutality and the violence the men and women of that generation of the IRA” while condemning the IRA of the late 20th century.

I’ve given Adams the benefit of the doubt more often than not over the years. He played a critical role in helping to end the Troubles, and I general support his party’s goal of reunifying the 32 counties. But as a career journalist I can’t abide casual cracks about holding editors at gunpoint or destroying printing press. Instead of telling the dinner crowd he wasn’t advocating such action against the Independent, Adams should have noted the important role of a free press, even one that’s critical of him, in a free country.

But to me what’s more disturbing than Adams’ remark is reporting about the “laughter” and guffaws it drew from those well-heeled Irish-American supporters of Sinn Féin. Their amusement at threats to the free press scares me more than Adams.