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Sunday 29 February 2004

Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil on the North

'YOU know how it is," wrote a satirical republican apropos Bobby Tohill's U-turn about events in Kelly's Cellars that Gerry Adams described as "a pub row", "One moment you're having an argument, the next someone gets upset and one of you is lying bound and gagged face down in a pool of your own blood underneath four large men in medical overalls with baseball bats in the back of a transit van speeding out of town. We've all had evenings that that, haven't we?" 

Before he was abducted, Tohill was telling people the Provos were planning to murder him and make it look as if loyalists were responsible. Afterwards he first confirmed and then denied his attackers were IRA: 92 stitches can make a fellow confused. 

Gamely, Martin McGuinness led the hymn from COCK, (Sinn Fein's Chorus of Obfuscation, Chicanery and Kodswallop). What incident? (The murder of Garda McCabe, according to Arthur Morgan TD, ex-terrorist, was a "tragic event": beating and abducting with intent to murder, in McGuinness's view, is an "incident".) Well, even if some of the lads were a bit high-spirited, it wasn't authorised from the top. Oh, and anyway, the charges against the arrested guys of IRA membership have been dropped, thus proving the "allegations are without substance". 

Not so. The charges were withdrawn because under the 2000 Terrorism Act, courts cannot take a senior police officer's testimony as to an accused person's membership of an illegal organisation if said organisation is on a recognised ceasefire. 

So all the usual lies then from COCK of the kind that peace processors have been grimly tolerating for years and years. But, hark, what is that unfamiliar sound? Why, it's Bertie Ahern speaking out. He's been let down again and again, he's been lied to shamelessly, he's been preached at about political corruption by murderers funded by gangsters, the bloody IRA won't go away and the Shinners are running strongly on a holier-than-everybody ticket. Bertie's had it. 

In response to a strangely convenient question from Charlie Bird, the Taoiseach suddenly announced he'd "always assumed" Adams had been in the IRA. Subsequently, he even left open the possibility that he still might be. 

What a nasty shock for Adams, only now getting over the jetlag from the Australian trip where he flogged his dreary and mendacious autobiography and told a fund-raising dinner that while three decades of murder and destruction (sorry, "struggle") had been necessary because of partition (so what's changed?) and because otherwise Northern nationalists would never have achieved their civil rights (oh, puleeese!), he'd never been in the IRA himself. Nope! Too busy working for peace. 

Adams was "flabbergasted", but, amazingly, this time his lies weren't working. For years now, the South has been in denial about Adams's role in the IRA, not least because the libel laws inhibited journalists. Yet the truth was out there. In 1997, for instance, David Sharrock and Mark Devenport, greatly respected Ireland correspondents of the Guardian and the BBC respectively, published Man of War, Man of Peace? , which described in great detail Adams's rise to the top of the IRA - where, after 39 years, he still is. Adams lied on. 

In 2002, Ed Moloney, formerly Irish Journalist of the Year, put Adams at the heart of his bestselling A Secret History of the IRA . Adams lied on and on. 

Last year, Professor Richard English of Queen's University, in Armed Struggle , a rather sympathetic history of the IRA, confirmed the whole story - not omitting Adams's role first as OC of the 2nd Belfast Battalion and then as OC of the whole Belfast Brigade during a period when the Belfast IRA killed 211 people. Adams lied on and on and on and on. 

The Taoiseach's words have suddenly changed perceptions. Even in RTE. 

"The fact that Gerry Adams seems to be the only person on the island of Ireland convinced that he was never in the IRA doesn't really help their [Sinn Fein's] plausibility," said Aine Lawlor on Morning Ireland on Friday. Senator Martin Mansergh was wheeled on at lunchtime to give us more details about what Adams and McGuinness were up to in the Seventies and Eighties. It's official. Adams is a liar. COCK is hard at work. This allegation, like the fuss about the "incident", is to do with the anti-peace process agenda and the desire of jealous politicians to stuff Sinn Fein. 

Well, though I backed the Agreement, I'm against appeasement, would dearly love to see Sinn Fein/IRA stuffed and believe all those peace-spouting republican spokesmen who once waged war and are howling about collusion should be challenged to tell the truth about their gory pasts. 

Naturally, to COCK I'm anti-peace. As, now, is Bertie.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards