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The First Post
20 October 2005

Shall I compare thee to a Nazi regime?

Any parallels to be drawn between Ireland and Hitler’s Germany do the IRA no favours, says Ruth Dudley Edwards

Gerry Adams, the controlling brain of Sinn Fein, is again living testimony to the importance of luck for a general. As British and Irish journalists ask him awkward questions about his indiscreet spiritual adviser, Father Alec Reid, Adams is safe from trouble in South Africa, where he is reverentially greeted as a freedom-fighter turned peacemaker.

Reid, a major player in the long-running Northern Ireland peace process, last week visited a Belfast Presbyterian church in a mission to convince Ulster Protestants that he had witnessed the complete decommissioning of IRA weaponry. Reacting to aggressive questioning, he retorted that in Northern Ireland nationalists had not been "treated like human beings," but, rather, treated "like the Nazis treated the Jews."

This was extremely embarrassing for republicans. Only the deranged could believe Reid was making a legitimate comparison with a unionist regime whose worst excesses were electoral gerrymandering and job discrimination against Catholics. More problematic still, while many Irish people - Protestant and Catholic - fought with the Allies, the IRA colluded with the Nazis.

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams

Annually, in Dublin, republican dignitaries make speeches beneath a statue to Sean Russell, who was chief of staff of the IRA when he died in 1940 on a German U-boat. Last Christmas, the statue was decapitated by an anti-fascist group.

Reid's insult to Jews and unionists has raised uncomfortable questions about republican propaganda. In particular, about its trivialising the Holocaust by exaggerating the sufferings of the minority in Northern Ireland and its amnesia about the onslaughts - by republicans, church and state alike - on the Protestant minority in the south.

Gerry Adams will not be hastening home.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards