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Sunday 26 October 2014


Mairia schools the trolls in a social media masterclass

Party leader Gerry Adams' Twitter teddy bears have gone strangely quiet

Gerry Adams

Sinn Fein don't know what hit them. In addition to being brave, intelligent and articulate, Mairia Cahill is well-organised and a good strategist. Thick, brain-washed Shinners of course believe she's an MI5 stooge: clever ones know the awful truth that this is an able woman whose character has been strengthened by abuse and betrayal and who is fighting on her own terms. And Twitter is a battleground where so far she's routed the enemy.

I enjoy Twitter for immediate news, engaging wit, diverse opinions and so on, but I've plenty of experience of its nasty side: abuse, threats and character-assassination are popular weapons, especially for sad men who hate uppity women.

Mairia understood that for someone at the centre of a breaking story, Twitter provides an invaluable platform from which to state your position, amend and clarify quickly when necessary and challenge your critics head on.

Efficiently and almost round the clock, she tweets links to all the broadcasts and coverage relating to the case, thanks her supporters, answers queries and confronts her critics.

Responses from her like "I'm reporting all criminal acts to guards/PSNI, and all defamation/libel to solicitor" are causing some of the usual suspects to react as indignantly as if she had threatened them with a knee-capping by her paramilitary wing.

Much as Sinn Fein never believe that loyalists had enough brains to kill anyone without the help of British intelligence, many of Mairia's angriest opponents desperately resist the simple truth that she's in charge of her own campaign to get justice for herself and others who suffered similarly, as well as protection for children in danger from IRA abusers.

When they're not indulging in whataboutery (abuse at Kincora, abuse by clergy), they're claiming that she's been put up to this by the "Get Gerry Adams" brigade in the media and is additionally a pawn of all political parties that oppose Sinn Fein.

"If someone can rationally explain the bizarre alliance of media, anti-agreement republicans, loyalists, and FF/FG, I'd be glad to hear it", tweeted one of the angry brigade. Well, @agentathacliath, the simple truth is that sometimes a human story grips the imagination of people who rarely agree about anything else.

And because of the sanctimony and mercilessness of Sinn Fein denunciations of anyone involved in the cover up of child abuse by clergy, there's a widespread feeling that what's sauce for the Catholic goose is definitely sauce for the Sinn Fein gander.

There's also a guilty feeling among some of the media that they let Gerry Adams get away very lightly when it emerged that he had protected his rapist brother Liam and allowed him to work with young people. And also a resentment at Sinn Fein's double standards in defending the justice system only when it rules in their favour.

That you can damage your own side if you're not careful has been demonstrated by @Irish_Gael, aka Ruaidhri Ua Conchoba. He's a forceful and relentless defender of Sinn Fein whose direct questions I rarely answer these days because I simply haven't the time or patience. He tweeted widely to encourage people to read a post on his blog called 'Mairia Cahill's Kangaroo Court - Trial by Media'.

He had every right to make a hostile case, but the tone was deeply unpleasant, he failed to realise that the age of consent at the time was 17, and he really overdid it when he suggested that a barrister might ask "was this possibly a year-long clandestine sexual relationship between these two people ignited by a 'few cans of beer' induced seduction by a silver-tongued, musically talented, IRA-powerful kind of charmer whom many a 16 year old would fancy."

This was retweeted by sympathisers who included the usually careful Danny Morrison and unfortunately for Sinn Fein, Seamus Finucane, one of those whom Mairia alleges was part of the Kangaroo Court, ticked "Like" on the blog on Facebook.

Mairia responded with a furious tweet to the beleaguered Mary Lou McDonald who responded with "The assertion in that blog is shameful and cruel and should not be posted anywhere by anyone" and was duly retweeted by Adams and Pearse Doherty.

This was a ghastly development for Sinn Fein. Seamus, one of the "decent republicans" mentioned by Adams in the Dail last week, is a brother of their iconic martyr, the assassinated lawyer Pat Finucane - as well as of John, who was killed on active service, and Dermot, a Maze escaper.

Adams' teddy bears have been strangely silent these last several days. It's no wonder that Adams has been consoling himself by tweeting "Minnie Mo's wee solidarity message" addressed to "My Special Uncle".

It begins "It takes many special qualities/ To make an uncle like you,/A lot of care and kindness/And understanding, too... It takes a special kind of love/That seems to know no end/And the thoughtfulness and patience/Of a true and trusted friend."

I don't think that'll be enough to convince Mairia Cahill.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards