Gerry Adams’ bad luck catches up with him all at once, it seems. The towering intellectual collossus of militant republicanism (as we once thought of him) is undone by the sunlight that constitutional politics and an active, inquisitive press throws onto the man and his leadership – and in a sense, by the cherry-picking of quotes not entirely in context.
Allegations of gentle treatment of his brother (perhaps too much of a euphemism there), his shockingly inept performance giving evidence about the same thing and the dreadful handling of Mairia Cahill’s allegations of sexual assault at the hands of the IRA both speak to a leader incapacitated. He takes blow after blow of unguarded, self-inflicted injury, and draws the day of his removal as Sinn Féin president nearer.
His misfiring handling of his party’s position on Irish Water doesn’t bode well for the political future of his party – and his most recent intervention – telling a friendly audience that equality is the ‘trojan horse’ of the entire republican struggle, and the only way to ‘break the bastards’ – is a singularly wrong-headed and spectacularly unpleasant thing to emerge at this point.
The silence you hear is occasioned by gloves being taken off – the Curry My Yoghurt narrative – that the DUP will never allow for an Irish Language Act, has plunged relationships which were never particularly warm into a deep freeze. The latest Adamsian admission is likely to fill the freezer with liquid nitrogen – because it’s difficult to square the ‘trojan horse to break the bastards’ line with the ‘Ireland of equals’ one.
What Adams actually said in the discussion – as reported by that exceptional paper the Impartial Reporter, wasn’t actually all that bad – but someone having good luck wouldn’t have had the bad bit reported as widely.
Peter Robinson’s political squidginess, the reaching out, has given way to Gregory Campbell’s approach – get all up in their grill and see what they do. Nobody is quite sure where this takes us, if anywhere. The long, cold winter has begun in Northern Ireland. Whether it becomes a cold war remains to be seen.