20 May 2015
Prince Charles has nothing to apologise for but is happy to forgive - it's a pity Gerry Adams can't do the same
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams speaks to the media as he arrives
at the National University of Ireland in Galway
Sinn Fein is working hard to convince us that Gerry Adams, rather than Prince Charles, was showing generosity by shaking hands.
The idea is to make us think that Adams is showing mighty forbearance in making this reconciliatory gesture to a man with murky connections. Sinn Fein sought the meeting as part of its attempt to show its respectable side to the Irish electorate.
As Adams put it: "Prince Charles is the Colonel-in-Chief of the Parachute Regiment. A regiment of the British Army that has been responsible for killing many Irish citizens, including in Derry, Ballymurphy, Springhill and other communities across the north."
That would be the same Parachute Regiment who had 18 members blown up by the IRA in 1979 - an event Adams didn't mention.
Even he couldn't ignore the little matter of the same-day murder of Lord Mountbatten, which he acknowledged in his usual grudging way: "But he also has been bereaved by the actions of republicans. Thankfully, the conflict is over. But there remains unresolved injustices. These must be rectified."
Did he mean he would now - as Jim Allister demanded on the Nolan Show - give the PSNI evidence about who on the IRA Army Council, of which he was a member, ordered the cold-blooded murder of Mountbatten?
Don't be silly. Adams means that while it's anti-peace to pursue republican murderers, any agents of the State involved in republican deaths in Northern Ireland must be pursued mercilessly.
In answer to the suggestion on the Nolan Show that Adams should apologise for the Mountbatten murder and those of two children and an old woman on the boat with him, the ever-obliging pro-republican commentator Jude Collins said that Charles should apologise for Bloody Sunday.
Let's just remember a few facts. Charles' position is honorary: he bears no responsibility whatsoever for the activities of the regiments with which he is associated in his capacity as a member of the royal family. British Governments are - and they spent around £200m of our money on an inquiry: in the House of Commons, David Cameron made such a moving apology for the awful events of that day that crowds cheered in Derry.
Adams, who has been a senior republican for four decades, has never said sorry for anything.
He was cock-a-hoop in 1979 over both Warrenpoint and Mountbatten's murder, which he described as "an execution", which "achieved" the IRA's objective of having people "paying attention to what was happening in Ireland".
Actually, it achieved the IRA's objective of impressing its friends in Soviet military intelligence by showing it could strike "at the heart of imperialism"; It collected £2m from the Syrian government as a reward.
See for details The Informer by Sean O'Callaghan, in which he also discusses the IRA 1983 plot to murder Charles and Diana in the royal box of a London theatre.
O'Callaghan, who was given the assassin's job, was working for the Irish police and managed to scupper the operation.
Of course, Sinn Fein always denies this but, inconveniently for them, Garret FitzGerald, who was Taoiseach in 1983, corroborated his story in 1997.
So, one way or another, Charles has a lot to forgive. Fortunately, he is inclined that way.
Some years ago, he explained to victims of 9/11 that, having gone through feelings of anger and hatred after Mountbatten's murder, he had realised that real wisdom is "to break the cause and effect and somehow to find the strength to search for a more positive way of overcoming the evil in men's hearts".
Ruth Dudley Edwards