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20 November 2017

Don't set your hopes too high ... despite the hype, Adams hasn't gone away, you know

Sinn Fein's leader intends to go on controlling his party through his female puppets, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards

Gerry Adams addresses the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in the RDS, Dublin, on Saturday
Gerry Adams addresses the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in the RDS, Dublin, on Saturday

Those who long to see the back of Gerry Adams are going to be disappointed. He has no intention of disappearing from our screens. Yes, he'll be stepping down as President of Sinn Fein in the spring, but it's already been made clear that he won't be disappearing from public view.

Consider the stomach-churning tribute on Saturday night before Adams' speech at the Ard Fheis from Toireasa Ferris, daughter of gun-runner, former IRA leader and TD, Martin Ferris. 

"We love this great giant on whose shoulders we stand," she said, "and no matter what he tells us tonight, he will always be our leader." 

Sinn Fein love titles, so it'll be very surprising if Adams does not end up being called, for instance, honorary Sinn Fein Vice-President for life - the badge worn by Joe Cahill, IRA ex-Chief of Staff, from 1996 until his death in 2004.

Cahill's role was to reassure hard men in Ireland and America that the IRA were still in charge and the peace process was but another means of achieving a united Ireland. 

Adams - who has brand recognition and still attracts adulation and money in parts of Irish-America - will fundraise and schmooze there by the side of his successor.

He says he won't stand again for the Dail, but for now he is still the party leader there. 

He is, however, widely regarded as being a liability, although many young people who know nothing about the decades of mayhem and murder view him rather as the equivalent on the mainland, see Jeremy Corbyn - a cuddly, well-meaning, peace-loving old beardie.

Adams has been extremely successful in pushing this image on social media with the help of whimsical tweets about teddy bears and ducks.

He has recently also taken to Snapchat where, on Saturday, he shared a photograph of comedy socks adorned with rubber ducks, with the comment: "Ducky ar la".

But many older people will never forgive Adams' bloodstained past and he embarrasses his party by demonstrating his inability to understand basic economics. Yet even if he hands over that job as well, there is absolutely no chance that he will retire to Donegal to let the new generation run the party without interference.

Adams is a control freak and, in fairness, as the only person who can hold his partitioned and increasingly fractious party together, he intends to continue to control it through his puppets. 

Michelle O'Neill is widely regarded as a robotic mediocrity, whose main contribution is to read out the speeches and statements written for her.

His deputy and intended successor as Sinn Fein President, Mary Lou McDonald, is able, but she has no IRA pedigree and is Dublin middle-class, and although she trumpets her "pride" in the IRA's history, she will never be able to dictate to the small group of veteran IRA men who still, with Adams, direct the republican movement.

If anyone doubts that is the case, they should ask themselves why ex-convict Sean "Spike" Murray - who has never held elected office - is a constant presence observing the activities of Sinn Fein members on Belfast City Council.

And why the likes of Sean "the Surgeon" Hughes - named by Peter Robinson in the House of Commons in 2002 as having joined the IRA Army Council - has been brought in to mediate in rows in the Republic where the party is haemorrhaging councillors over claims of bullying, harassment and smear campaigns.

Councillors in Northern Ireland are used to doing what they're told, but down south it's different and the cracks are beginning to show.

As usual, Sinn Fein has been dealing with such problems by brass-necked denials and blaming journalists.

In Adams' speech, he explained that "the Fine Gael and Fianna Fail leaderships, the Dublin establishment, including the Independent Media Group" (owners of the consistently anti-terrorist Sunday Independent) "don't want Sinn Fein in government because they and their cronies have run this state for nearly 100 years in their own interests".

What's more, "they know we will bring an end to corruption, cronyism and gombeenism. They know a government with Sinn Fein leading it will be an accountable government."


You have to laugh.

Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic, was published by Oneworld Publications on March 22.

The paperback of Ruth Dudley Edwards’ The Seven: The Lives And Legacies Of The Founding Fathers Of The Irish Republic will be published on April 23.

Ruth Dudley Edwards

© Ruth Dudley Edwards