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1 September 2014

Amnesiac Gerry Adams spins more yarns over the ceasefire

Leadership plea: Nancy Soderberg

At Albert Reynolds' funeral, Fr Brian D'Arcy told the congregation that Mr Reynolds had said to him, "Brian, before I leave this office I'll have peace in the north". "That was his promise on the day he became taoiseach," said Fr D'Arcy, "and he did it."

Father D'Arcy didn't add that the ceasefire (aka 'cessation') lasted only 17 months. Perhaps he feared that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness might have walked out had he mentioned that, in February 1996, their IRA murdered two and injured 100 in London's Docklands with the help of half a ton of explosives.

Mind you, they explained at the time that they had done this "with the greatest reluctance" and Mr Adams put on his most sincere voice to call for everyone to redouble their efforts to make peace.

And sure, they didn't kill, or mutilate, that many people before the permanent ceasefire in July 1997, so perhaps it's hardly worth mentioning.

Fr D'Arcy wasn't alone in displaying amnesia. The thrust of much of the coverage of Mr Reynolds' death has been that he was the man who had delivered peace: "the day it all ended" was the theme.

On Thursday, Nancy Soderberg, who had been President Clinton's deputy national security advisor and go-to person on Ireland, complained in an Irish Times article that, "Today, too many in Northern Ireland take two decades of a ceasefire for granted." She didn't mention the cessation's cessation.

Nor was the return to violence mentioned by Mr Adams in the next day's Irish Times, in one of those articles that make me wonder if grinding my way through to the bitter end of his distortions will kill me from sheer annoyance before I expire from terminal boredom with his smug and leaden prose.

It's hard to bear reading that, "Martin McGuinness and I went to meet the IRA leadership again ... and argued that it was an opportunity to test the British Government's desire for peace and to reach out to unionists, who we had been meeting at civic, community and religious level for some time."

Their approach to reaching out to unionists was novel. First, since they had to hide from their supporters that the IRA was a busted flush, they turned the truth on its head by organising noisy "impromptu" celebratory rallies designed to convince gullible republicans and paranoid unionists alike that the ceasefire was somehow a triumph for the IRA.

Anyone pointing out that they hadn't said the ceasefire was permanent was denounced as a war-lover. An anonymous peace-lover offended by my questioning of the IRA's sincerity made me laugh with the scrawl: "I can't wait for the boys to get back to work and blow your ugly f****** head off."

Then there was the demonisation of the loyal orders. Mr Adams – who didn't know he was being taped – gleefully boasted to a Sinn Fein meeting in early 1997 that the death and devastation over Drumcree and other parades hadn't happened by accident.

"Three years of work on the lower Ormeau Road, Portadown and parts of Fermanagh and Newry, Armagh and in Bellaghy and up in Derry. Three years of work went into creating that situation and fair play to those people who put the work in."

In his article, Mr Adams didn't mention Ms Soderberg, who wrote angrily of the "abysmal abdication of leadership" in Northern Ireland: "Good leaders would be able to recognise the righteousness of the other side and step forward to compromise and build a more prosperous future."

Instead, he produced the same old infantile demand that the British and Irish governments tackle "outstanding issues bedevilling the political process".

Taoiseach Edna Kenny, "would do well to emulate the approach adopted by the late Albert Reynolds," he finished, piously.

Where Mr Reynolds could usefully be an inspiration is in his reaction to the news that the IRA wanted to limit the scope of the ceasefire: "I've told them that, if they don't do this right, they can shag off."

I hope Messrs Cameron and Kenny have the courage to say something similar when asked by DUP and Sinn Fein politicians to do their jobs for them.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards