Tag Archives: Gerry Adams

Catching up with modern Ireland: May

I’ll be reducing the number of new posts and republishing some of my earlier work over the summer as I work on larger projects for the fall and beyond. Stay safe. Here’s the May roundup:  

  • At least 1,652 people have died of COVID-19 in the Republic of Ireland, with another 522 in Northern Ireland. Both sides of the border are beginning to ease some lock-down restrictions in place since mid-March.
  • “The Irish Blessing” – an initiative of 300 religious congregations from different denominations on the island  – is intended as a blessing of protection on frontline workers battling the pandemic. Watch and listen to the recorded version of “Be Thou My Vision” below:

  • U.S media outlets widely reported the COVID-19 relief generously supplied by the Irish people to the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Reservation as repayment of a donation the Choctaw Nation sent to starving Irish families during the Great Famine.
  • Nearly four months after the general election in the Republic failed to produce a governing majority, coalition talks continue to grind forward. “Slowly, at times almost imperceptibly, Fianna FáilFine Gael and Green Party negotiators are crawling towards a government, conscious that public and political patience is running out,” The Irish Times reported. Party leaders had hoped for a deal by June. Now they wonder if one can be achieved by the middle, or even the end, of the month. “As always, nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.”
  • The U.K.’s highest court ruled that the former Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams should not have been found guilty of unlawfully attempting to escape from Long Kesh prison in the 1970s because his internment was not legal to begin with. The ruling is expected to prompt more than 200 additional challenges from other former internees, including loyalists, the Belfast News Letter reported.
  • Ireland is vying against Canada and Norway for a two-year rotating seat on the United Nation’s Security Council. The vote is set for June 17. Ireland last held the seat in 2001; and earlier in 1981 and 1962.
  • The Ireland Funds America named Caitriona Fottrell is its new president and CEO, effective June 30. She has been with the global philanthropic network since 1993, currently as vice president. The Fund has chapters in 12 countries.
  • Ireland’s first direct container shipping service to the United States is set to begin in June, with weekly crossings between the Port of Cork and Wilmington, N.C., and Philadelphia, according to Maritime Executive. Readers of my series about New York Globe journalist Harry Guest‘s 1920 reporting from revolutionary Ireland will recall the U.S.-based Moore-McCormack Lines operated a commercial shipping service between Philadelphia and Dublin-Cork-Belfast, from September 1919 until 1925.
  • Actor Matt Damon flew out of Ireland in late May after three months of unscheduled lock down at a €1,000 per night Dalkey mansion. … Irish-American actress Kate Mulgrew announced she might move to Ireland if Donald Trump wins reelection in November.

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.

CU6USdKm.jpg (512×512)

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.”

As-featured-in-the-journal.ie-2.jpg (374×282)

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.

Terry-Wogan-008.jpg (460×276)

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.

Adams2Feb14_Swf

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.