Tag Archives: Gerry Adams

More troubles about the past for Adams; Hart named envoy

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has new troubles with the past not six months since being released from police questioning about the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville.

This time around Adams and republicans are facing harsh accusations about how they handled, or mishandled, allegations of rape by members of the IRA. Adams claims the charges are being politicized by opponents.

For perspective on IRA justice during the Troubles and the political implications of this scandal, in the North and the Republic, read this piece by Brian Feeney. He is head of history at St Mary’s University College in Belfast, and the author of Sinn Féin: A Hundred Turbulent Years and Insider: Life in the IRA.

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An additional note about the North: former U.S. Senator and two-time presidential candidate Gary Hart has appointed to help jump-start political negotiations in Northern Ireland. As the Belfast Telegraph says with a sigh, Hart is “the latest in a decades-long parade of special U.S. peace process envoys — and a man long off the radar of mainstream American political life.”

But the story also contains this reality check:

One Washington insider with long-time involvement in Irish affairs said that Belfast’s politicians shouldn’t take high-level US governmental attention for granted. “Northern Ireland, like lots of places around the world, tends to think that their problems are the biggest on the board. And they aren’t,” he said.

Can Hart finish the work on “flags, parades and the past” that Richard Haas nearly concluded at the end of 2013? Let’s see.

Historic IRA ceasefire hits 20th anniversary

Recognising the potential of the current situation and in order to enhance the democratic process and underlying our definitive commitment to its success, the leadership of the IRA have decided that as of midnight, August 31, there will be a complete cessation of military operations. All our units have been instructed accordingly.

— Irish Republican Army ceasefire statement of August 1994

Some great coverage of this historic event is emerging from Irish and British media outlets.

Writing for the BBC, Vincent Kearney recounts obtaining the ceasefire statement through a republican source as a reporter for the Belfast Telegraph. He tells the back story leading up to the deal, such as the secret meetings between Gerry Adams and John Hume facilitated by a Catholic priest at Clonard Monastery.

Kearney recalls the violence preceding the Downing Street Declaration between prime ministers John Major of Britain and the recently deceased Albert Reynolds of Ireland. He also quotes republican leader and now Deputy First Minster Martin McGuinness:

People make a mistake if they think that the engagement that took place between ourselves and the British government back channel, for want of a better word, was the motivating factor in bringing about the IRA ceasefire of 1994, that’s not the way the process worked. What brought about the IRA ceasefire was the coming together of Irish America, support from the White House, the Albert Reynolds input and, of course, the initiative led by Gerry Adams and by John Hume, with the support of Father Alec Reid.

Adams, Reynolds and Hume shortly after the IRA ceasefire. Belfast Telegraph image.

Adams, Reynolds and Hume shortly after the IRA ceasefire. Belfast Telegraph image.

The Irish Times has a couple of pieces by two insiders. Nancy Soderberg, a foreign policy adviser to former President Bill Clinton, details the persistence of Reynolds and others to obtain a visa for IRA man Joe Cahill to sell the ceasefire to republican hardliners in the U.S. Former Reynolds press secretary Seán Duignan tells the same story from the Irish side.

Remarks of former taoiseach stir debate over Home Rule, revolution

UPDATE:

Some thoughtful pieces have been added to the debate: Ronan Fanning writes on why it is unwise to commemorate the September 1914 Home Rule Bill. Stephen Collins says that Bruton’s proposal deserves serious consideration. Both are good reads.

ORIGINAL POST:

Former taoiseach John Bruton has stirred up debate in Ireland by insisting that it’s better to note the centenary of Home Rule, this September, than the 1916 Easter Rising and subsequent War of Independence.

Such armed revolutions would have been “completely unnecessary,” Burton says, if Ireland had stuck to the parliamentary path. In public comments and a post on his website, Bruton argues:

Ireland could have achieved better results, for all the people of the island, if it had continued to follow the successful non violent parliamentary Home Rule path, and had not embarked on the path of physical violence, initiated by the IRB and the Irish Citizen Army in Easter Week of 1916.

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Others disagree, among them (no surprise here) Gerry Adams. He was quoted in The Irish Times as saying:

For the record, the 1916 Rising was a seminal event in Irish history, a decisive blow in the struggle for Irish freedom. It is incredible that a former taoiseach – a position that would never have existed but for the Easter Rising and the [Black and] Tan War – would denigrate the sacrifice of the participants and their families in this way.”

And here’s a more detailed op-ed by Éamon Ó Cuív, a grandson of Irish-American republican leader Éamon de Valera.

Gerry Adams questioned about ’72 IRA murder

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been arrested for questioning about the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a widow wrongly suspected of informing against the Irish Republican Army.

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Adams was implicated by two IRA veterans who gave taped interviews to researchers for a Boston College oral history project on the four-decade Northern Ireland conflict known as the Troubles. The tapes were made available to Northern Ireland/British police in a complicated court battle. Here’s some perspective from a B.U. trustee.

Adams made himself available to the authorities, but denies any role in the killing. Here’s his statement on the Sinn Féin website.

Obviously, this story is developing. We will have to see if Adams is charged, and what impact this might have on upcoming elections and the ongoing peace process in Northern Ireland. No doubt many on the island of Ireland would like to see Adams removed from politics and the public stage. But he has his supporters, as well, and has demonstrated an amazing talent for survival over the decades.

McGuinness to attend state banquet in Britian

Former IRA commander and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has accepted an invitation to attend a British state banquet hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Castle.

The Irish Times and other media outlets report that McGuinness will attend the 8 April banquet, which honors Irish President Michael D. Higgins. It is the first official visit by an Irish head of state since the modern political separation of the two islands began in 1922.

McGuinness and the Queen shake hands in Belfast, July 2012.

McGuinness and the Queen shake hands in Belfast, July 2012.

The Wall Street Journal said the visit “is designed to underscore Ireland’s evolving acceptance that, before independence in 1922, its people weren’t always unwilling participants in the U.K. and the global empire it led, and the shared history of the two nations is less deeply antagonistic than once claimed by Irish nation builders.”

The Journal‘s story continues:

The exchange of official visits is the latest in a series of steps that have taken place over the last three decades and have marked a gradual but steady mending of fences between the two nations, once bitterly divided over the fate of the six Irish counties that remain a part of the U.K. … The formal process of reconciliation has lagged behind deepening links between British and Irish people. A quarter of British people have some recent Irish forbears, while 50,000 directors of current British companies were born in Ireland.

Of the Northern Ireland republican, the BBC says:

As a youth, Martin McGuinness wore the uniform of an IRA volunteer – secretly, illegally and defiantly. Now, decades later, he will don a white tie and tails and publicly, cheerfully and – perhaps -still defiantly, attend the Queen’s banquet at Windsor Castle. We should not be too surprised. His journey has already seen him shake the hand of the Queen. Not to attend the first state visit of an Irish president would undermine all his promises, made as an Irish presidential candidate, that he would work for peace.

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams noted that McGuinness’s attendance might be a bridge too far for some republicans. “I would appeal to them to view this positively in the context of republican and democratic objectives and the interests of unity and peace on this island,” he said.

Adams calls for “new Republic” in Ireland

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has called for “a new republic” on the island of Ireland. In a recent County Donegal speech he criticized the 1922 partition for creating “two conservative states ruled in their narrow self-interests by two conservative elites.” Adams said:

The northern state was a one party state which reinforced the institutionalised use of discrimination, sectarianism and segregation. …This [southern] state is the product of the counter-revolution that followed the Rising and of a dreadful civil war which tore out the heart at that time of what remained of the generosity of our national spirit. As the idealism of the aborted revolution waned a native conservative elite replaced the old English elite with little real change in the organisation of Irish society and no real movement towards a rights based dispensation. …Religion was hijacked by mean men who used the gospel not to empower but to control, and narrow moral codes were enforced to subvert the instinctive generosity of our people.

For kicks, I did a select word analysis of Adams’ 3,000-word speech. My findings:

Catholic, 2; Protestant, 2; British/English, 6; Ireland, 16;  USA, 2; republic, 26; partition, 7; democracy/democratic, 11; religion, 1; Good Friday, 17; freedom, 1; justice, 3; equality, 17; fairness, 4; people, 14; politicians, 0; vote/s, 6; poll, 4; Sinn Féin, 11; Fianna Fail, 1;  Fine Gael, 4; Labour, 4; unionist/unionism, 12; united Ireland, 2.

The full speech is on the Sinn Féin website. News coverage in Irish Central included four pages of reader comments that cheer and disparage Adams.

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“People’s Referendum” shows support for united Ireland

An unofficial poll in two Ireland/Northern Ireland border communities shows strong support for re-uniting the island, The Irish Times reports.

Not surprisingly, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams welcomed the result, saying “a debate on Irish unity and the type of agreed Ireland people wish to create for the future has now begun.”

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Other media outlets such as the Irish Examiner, Irish Independent and BBC ignored the vote organized by the pro-republican United Ireland – You Decide campaign. The 92 percent “Yes” tally among 1,000 or so ballots appears at odds with historical polling on the issue.

That said, it’s interesting to read the post-vote comments on the Facebook page of Protestants for a United Ireland.

The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 provides a mechanism for such a border poll. Some unionists have suggested holding a referendum as a way of calling the bluff of republicans, since another provision requires waiting seven years before allowing a second poll.

Six northeast counties were partitioned as Northern Ireland in 1922 as 26 southern counties achieved partial independence as the Irish Free State. Ireland is now at the beginning of a 10-year stretch of centennial anniversaries that are rekindling that history and debate.

Thatcher, no friend of Ireland, dead at 87

Irish republicans are unlikely to shed any tears today about the death of Margaret Thatcher. It will be interesting to see what statements are issued by Gerry Adams and others.

The BBC quickly posted this overview of her relationship with Ireland.

In Irish affairs Margaret Thatcher was a tough and uncompromising believer in the Union, and instinctively loyal to the security forces she saw as society’s bulwark against a slide into the anarchy of terrorism.

She was hated by republicans and despised them in return, and her blunt-speaking style won her few friends on either side of the border, even if many had a sneaking admiration for her status on the world stage.

We’ll update this post with more links through the day.

UPDATE 1:

Adams, quoted in the Irish Independent:

“Margaret Thatcher did great hurt to the Irish and British people during her time as British prime minister. Working class communities were devastated in Britain because of her policies…”

UPDATE 2:

The Irish Examiner reports “measured praise” for Maggie from Irish leaders.

Here’s a good overview from Bloomberg:

Thatcher’s uncompromising treatment of the hunger strikers led only to an increase in terrorism and the ascension of the IRA as a potent political force. … Thatcher’s unyielding position was that public sympathy for the hunger strikers quickly morphed into political support for Republicanism. Bobby Sands, one of the strikers, was elected to the British House of Commons for Fermanagh-South Tyrone while imprisoned.

Adams seeks to redefine Irish republicanism

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is redefining Irish republicanism to be relevant for the post-conflict future, the Irish Times reports.

“It’s worth reminding ourselves that this isn’t 1798. This isn’t 1916. This isn’t 1981. The men and women of those generations took the core principles of republicanism and modernised them and made them relevant to their own times,” he said. “That’s what we have to do – we have to take the core values of our political ethos and make them relevant to our time, and in our place of activism, whether that is in the community, in local government, in the Assembly or in the Dáil.”

Adams also wants a referendum on whether to continue partition of the six counties in the north of Ireland. The issue is getting fresh attention with Britain allowing Scotland to have a 2014 vote on whether to remain in the union. Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said it’s too soon to consider having such a referendum.

Northern Ireland and the Irish Free State were created in 1921.image