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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent
Dies IRAe
Book Review
Ruth Dudley Edwards • 13.12.03

There wasn't much to laugh at in this plodding compilation of lies, damned lies, and clichés, but one scene briefly lifted my gloom. It was March 1998, the negotiations that would culminate the following month in the Good Friday Agreement were intensifying, and, like several other Irish politicians, Gerry Adams was in Washington for St. Patrick's Day. President Clinton, explains Adams, who is a master of the euphemism, "was going through a difficult time in his personal life and looked a little drawn," yet somehow he found the time and energy to have a meeting with Adams in the Oval Office. "While most of our discussions were about Ireland," says Adams, "I also raised the Middle East situation with him, as well as the question of Cuba and the huge problems suffered by Third World countries crippled by debt. I urged him to cancel Third World debt and I asked him to use his influence to get other countries to do the same." So there we have the Leader of the Free World - in trouble for fibbing - sitting in his own office being unctuously lectured on foreign policy by a terrorist and mass murderer who lies for the planet.

The effrontery of Adams's lies is truly breathtaking. In this book, just as in his first volume of autobiography, he insists he was never in the Irish Republican Army (IRA), an organization he claims is completely separate from Sinn Fein, the political party of which he is president. Yet the truth is that for more than 30 years, Adams has been a senior figure in the IRA. In 1972, it was Adams who was in charge in Belfast on what became known as Bloody Friday, when 20 bombs killed nine people and injured 130. It was on Adams's watch that Jean McConville, a Protestant widow of a Catholic man and a mother of ten, was kidnapped, tortured and murdered..

In his decades on the seven-man IRA Army Council, Adams has authorized bombings and shootings that have killed around 1,700 people and have maimed and desolated tens of thousands more. In this grisly business his closest IRA colleagues have been Martin McGuinness and Pat Doherty, both of whom, like Adams, run Sinn Fein as well as the IRA and are non-attending members of the British House of Commons. When the Sinn Fein leadership announces it is off to consult the IRA leadership, it is largely talking to itself.

"I'm telling the story of the Irish peace process," says Adams. "I can only tell my experience of it, my role in it. It is not my business to offer an objective account of events or see through someone else's eyes. My intention is to tell a story. It is my story. My truth. My reality." Well, it certainly isn't any normal person's reality. Quite apart from the glaring lies, there are his grotesque distortions of Irish history.

Ireland has two tribes, whose main distinguishing feature is religion. When the ruling British government partitioned the island in 1921, the largely Roman Catholic 26 counties became a confessional state. Protestants were perceived by violent republicans as British and disloyal; those not murdered or terrorized out of the country by the IRA saw their numbers further diminished because in religiously mixed marriages children had to be brought up Catholic. Being a tiny minority, the Protestants accepted defeat, kept their heads down and their opinions to themselves: Only now is the story of what they endured becoming well known.

The very substantial Catholic minority in the six counties that became Northern Ireland and stayed part of the United Kingdom expressed their alienation from the state by refusing to participate in the political system and by insisting on segregated education; periodically, the IRA would do some bombing and shooting. Terrified of the enemy within, Unionists resorted to gerrymandering and discrimination to maintain power. What developed was what David Trimble - the most intelligent and articulate Unionist politician since partition and, unlike Adams, a good man - described in the speech in which he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize as "a cold house for Catholics."

In 1968, civil rights marches began in Northern Ireland; tribal violence followed, and the IRA came into its own. By 1972, after the British government had become reluctantly involved, all legitimate minority demands were met, but the IRA continued a terrorist campaign to force Ulster Protestants into a united socialist Ireland, while their loyalist counterparts murdered Catholics in order to keep Northern Ireland British.

The IRA campaign failed dramatically: These days, most people in the Republic of Ireland as well as in Northern Ireland want to keep the island partitioned. You will not learn this from Gerry Adams's book, since - in his reality - all this mayhem has been a struggle for justice and equality. (Since he wants to sell this book in the U.S., socialism doesn't get mentioned.) You also will not learn that Sinn Fein, the richest political party in Ireland, is largely financed by IRA racketeering and has friendly links with terrorists in many parts of the world.

Throughout this terrible period, the British and Irish governments and most people on the island longed for the peace both sets of paramilitaries denied them. Then, in the late 1980s, Sinn Fein/IRA realized they were defeated and decided to pretend they had won and seek the best deal possible. Adams's work of propaganda describes in mind-numbing detail and with an ungenerous spirit the meetings and démarches and telephone calls and visits and papers and arguments and setbacks of the peace process.

Much as I despise Adams for his cruelty, dishonesty, and hypocrisy, there is no doubt that he and his allies deserve some credit for eventually grasping that their squalid, sectarian war was getting nowhere. Nor can one doubt their energy, commitment, and cunning over the past several years as they fought their corner; they are ruthless and brilliant negotiators. Overall, however, theirs is a terrible legacy. Operating like Stalinists, they taught generations of children to hate their neighbors and have caused dreadful suffering to their own community as well as to those they see as the enemy. Even now, as Adams is fêted abroad as a peacemaker by idiots like Martin Sheen and cynics like the Clintons, back home republicans challenging his line are intimidated, beaten, and sometimes murdered.

On top of all that, this nauseating man has reinvented himself as a charismatic, philosophical, politically correct tree-hugger: "Dialogue happens every day in all our lives," he tells us. "Equality is good for everybody." He also passes himself off as a writer. Well, when I got to page 271, from sheer boredom I counted the clichés and on that solitary page netted these: "Unionist hackles were raised"; "No easy task"; "We had an ace up our sleeves"; "the slippery slope"; "the Sinn Fein organization was at full stretch"; and "we had to go for it." Anyone who encourages this man to write should be ashamed of himself.

A Farther Shore: Ireland's Long Road to Peace by Gerry Adams. (Random House, 448 pp., $25.95)

Ruth Dudley Edwards is a historian, journalist, and mystery writer. Her books include The Faithful Tribe: An Intimate Portrait of the Loyal Institutions.

This article recently appeared in the US National Review' and was submitted to The Blanket by the author.



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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

13 December 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


The Right Road to Power
Anthony McIntyre


University Challenge

Seaghán Ó Murchú


Money Talks
Mick Hall


Bloody Sunday Inquiry
Liam O Comain


Stalemate for the GFA
Paul Mallon


The GFA and Other Fairystories
Proinsias O'Loinsaigh


Dies IRAe
Ruth Dudley Edwards


Conversion of Constantine
Terry O'Neill


Republican Prisoner Attacked in Hydebank YOC



Civil Rights Veterans on Prison Situation
October 5th Association


8 December 2003


Electing to Disagree
Brendan O'Neill


The GFA Revisited

Gerry Ruddy


The Problem With the Kurds
Pedram Moallemian


Even Northern Ireland Has Global Responsibilties
Anthony McIntyre


Rafah Today: The Tent
Mohammed Omer




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