Gerry Adams' US trip break from pressure

Gerry Adams Gerry Adams had an approval rating of 29% at the start of October

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So Gerry Adams is flying off to the US to "brief the US administration on the political situation in Ireland" and the need for continuing American engagement in the peace process.

According to his Twitter feed, despite his frequent visits over the years, he is still selected for a "special security search".

That might be a minor inconvenience, but one would assume that the transatlantic trip would provide a break for the Sinn Féin president from the build-up of pressure in recent weeks.

First there was the conviction of his brother Liam for raping and abusing his niece Áine.

Then came the decision to call in Attorney General John Larkin to examine allegations that he had withheld information about the case.

Then there was Darragh MacIntyre and Alison Millar's powerful televised elegy to the Disappeared, which focused renewed attention on Mr Adams' denial of involvement in the disappearance of Jean McConville, a widowed mother-of-10.

The Sinn Féin president has broad shoulders and a reputation for walking away unscathed from allegations that would have sunk more conventional politicians.

Mr Adams topped the poll in Louth in February 2011, two years after journalist Chris Moore brought his niece's case to attention and after reporter Suzanne Breen exposed inconsistencies in his account of his relationship with his brother.

As of the start of October, Mr Adams had an approval rating of 29%.

This is behind Taoiseach Enda Kenny but ahead of Fianna Fáil's Micheál Martin and Labour's Eamon Gilmore.


Whilst this rating might pre-date the cross-border transmission of this week's Disappeared documentary, it comes more than a decade after Ed Moloney's book, Secret History of the IRA, linked the Sinn Féin leader to an IRA unit of "unknowns" allegedly tasked with the grisly work of trying to cover up the murders on a permanent basis.

Those claims have since been added further weight by the broadcast and publication of more claims from the now-deceased IRA members Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes - allegations rejected again by Mr Adams this week as lies.

On a political level then, the drip drip of allegations doesn't appear to have put voters off backing the veteran Sinn Féin president.

Mr Adams celebrated his 65th birthday this year. Every time I have raised the possibility of standing down with him in recent years, he has rebuffed the notion that he might prefer to concentrate on writing books.

The more that opponents like the DUP's Edwin Poots seek to make capital out of Mr Adams' difficulties, the more it is likely to bolster his position within his own camp.

However, there are other dynamics at work.


Given Mr Adams' and Sinn Féin's ambitions to expand further in the south, it is only natural commentators should start looking towards other TDs like Mary Lou McDonald or Pearse Doherty as potential leaders in waiting.

Mr Adams' denials of IRA membership - which fellow republicans might once have viewed as a necessary expedient in a war situation - are increasingly making him an object of derision, even to some within his own tight-knit community.

More than that, even if the substance of the latest allegations is not new, there could come a point when the folk memory of Mr Adams as Sinn Féin's 'Mandela' fades, while the public image of evasive appearances on the TV persists.

Given the impending centenary of the Easter Rising, it is often conjectured that the Sinn Féin president would like to carry on at the helm of his party until 2016.

Whatever happens between now and then, he will want to determine his own destiny rather than appear to be buffeted by his critics into a hasty departure.

Mark Devenport Article written by Mark Devenport Mark Devenport Political editor, Northern Ireland

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  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Would this be the same Gerry Adams who has consistently demanded "truth" and "justice"? It raises some concerns as to how truth and justice would be defined in Gerry's brave new Ireland.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Forgetting about the politics of the country and who is catholic or protestant or what color flag they stand in front of, this man allowed his brother to abuse his daughter and as a member of government who decides our laws, he allowed it to go unchecked. This is a disgraceful act for any human being to allow and to walk away from with no repercussions. He deserves equal punishment.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    This is a very sad situation for any family to find themselves in.
    It would appear that there are many who would use this tragic event to 'get at' Gerry Adams.Like him or loathe him, how many would be willing to have their family's problems aired in full public view.
    His politics and political activity are separate from his family situation.
    People in glass houses should not throw stones.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    Caul is was on about Adams supporting his neice, the only thing he worried about is "is this going to affect me" stuff everything else

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    @25 Martin McGuinness received 13.7 % 1st preference votes in the 2011 Irish Presidential election. Opinion polls early in the campaign were averaging 28% in favour of McGuinness.


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