Gerry Adams and Child Sexual Abuse

Did the SInn Féin president’s handling of sex abuse by his own family influence Irish history?

Gerry Adams and Child Sexual Abuse.

Did I ever think I’d find myself writing a title like that?

It encapsulates everything that has turned Ireland inside out in recent years.

You’ll probably know, if you’ve been a regular reader, that I’m not a big fan of Sinn Féin, but I can’t turn away from the questions arising out of recent revelations.  As Gerry Adams choreographed the negotiations that would ultimately lead to an end of the current conflict in the North, he became aware that his own father had sexually abused his siblings and that his own brother had sexually abused his daughter.  What was the right thing to do?

This is a very difficult question.

Should he go to the peelers?  Should he deal with it internally?  Should he stay quiet about everything and see if he could conclude a political process that might bring peace to the island of Ireland, or in his own analysis, strengthen the republican position?

If this isn’t a dilemma, I don’t know what is.

Now, don’t for a second think that I’m an adherent of Gerry Adams.  This is my atttempt to look at the thing in a kinematic way.

I’m not blind to the injustices and inequalities that gave rise to the resurgent IRA, but since I consider nationalism of all hues to be the greatest curse that  ever afflicted Europe, I was never likely to be much of an apostle for the IRA message.  Of course, that isn’t to say that I find the moronic, bigoted  loyalist side particularly appealing either, but who takes Johnny Adair seriously?    By the same token, I was never a fan of the triumphalist policies of the Unionist state, or of the condescending nature of the British government’s attitudes to the Irish over the years.

Who could be?

At the end of it all, I’m not fond of pre-packaged TV-dinner political policies of any shade.

If you’ve been any sort of regular visitor here, you’ll know that I think we’ve failed to make a success of partial independence, not to mind having a completely sovereign, united Ireland.  In my opinion, independence could only have worked if we were a mature society, but Ireland  has been subject to two empires: London’s and Rome’s, and while the Brits withdrew from a large section of the island, the foreign agents of the Vatican only tightened their grip, like a face-hugger flexing its tail.

There was a strange dynamic at work in the North, propelling the most unlikely people into the conflict.    On an intellectual level, for fairly obvious reasons, the Provos had the pick of the  crop.   Those who would normally have entered the professions in a healthy society, instead entered the conflict and the prisons.  These were the Men of Violence in Thatcher’s terminology.

Why?  Because the North was a most distorted, unequal society.

Because those of a unionist inclination had many outlets.  The police.  The army.  The UDR.   And only the lowest orders entered the loyalist paramilitaries.

Many of a Catholic Irish nationalist inclination gravitated towards Sinn Féin or the SDLP and therefore the republican paramilitary wing ended up with many people who might ordinarily have expected to enter a university or some other third-level institution and go on to become professionals of one sort or another, in law, technology, medicine or wherever their talents directed them.

However, this isn’t to say that the Republican movement didn’t attract many thugs and criminals.  It certainly did, and even after the formal conflict ended we still see how their thuggery continues in cases like the murder of Robert McCartney and in the constant criminality that makes some of them wealthy.

There was another reason I didn’t think much of the republican movement, and that was its association with Catholicism.  If you’re a regular visitor, you’ll know what I think of the Roman Catholic clergy, a view held in common with an increasing number of Irish people these days.

Gerry Adams came from a fervent RC background, perhaps made all the more fervent in counterpoint to the Protestant fundamentalism that created such injustice in the society where he grew up.  And I imagine he absorbed all the certainties that a fervent Roman Catholic upbringing imposes on people, including the sexual insecurities projected onto the  laity by a  frustrated, emotionally-stunted clergy.

In the same way that loyalist iconography confers a quasi-saintly status on their heroes, we saw the same process take place among republican figures, including Gerry Adams’s own father, who was buried with full republican honours,  which we now discover was against his son’s wishes.

Did this debunk the mystique of the republican hero for Gerry Adams?   What did he think as he watched a child-abuser buried in a Tricolour?

I remember those discussions and debates.  I remember the times leading up to the Good Friday agreement and I remember Gerry Adams touring the country, persuading his people to come on board.  Looking at the timeline, and knowing what we do now,  Gerry Adams went through some sort of a transformation at about the same time that he discovered what his brother and his father had been up to.  Is it too fanciful to imagine that these discoveries might have had some kind of transformative effect on him, and might perhaps have been catalysts in the process of making peace?

11 replies on “Gerry Adams and Child Sexual Abuse”

Bock , there is a strange parallel here between the actions of Adams, the Catholic Church and many citizens of North Kerry. Denial is the problem, a phenomenon that Gerry is no stranger to. Surprisingly enough I feel on one level I feel a certain compassion for him on this issue, as I would for anybody from an abusive environment. However if you equivocate on issues such as child abuse and violence, you are without standing. Therein lies Adam`s difficulty, you might say he didn`t know any better. However it must be pointed out that the “justice ” meated out by Adams fellow travellers in the Republican movement to child abusers and people guilty of lesser and no wrongs call into question the stance of the Sinn Fein president.

It goes even deeper.

This experience places Gerry Adams in exactly the same hole as the British authorities and judiciary when they were contemplating the notion of an appalling vista.

While the victim’s experience is dreadful, there’s no escape from the historical irony.

Aine Tyrell reported the crime to the RUC in 1987, who decided to ignore it. No parallels with the Gardai there then? What may be even more sinister was the unspoken rule of what were legitimate targets for the Brits and the Provos at that time. You can be certain British Intelligence would have this story within hours of being reported. What a propeganda coup this would have been, Paedophile Provos etc. Their inaction on the matter suggests some form of collusion or quid pro quo.

Bock –

Should he go to the peelers? Should he deal with it internally? Should he stay quiet about everything and see if he could conclude a political process that might bring peace to the island of Ireland, or in his own analysis, strengthen the republican position?

If this isn’t a dilemma, I don’t know what is.

Unfortunately for us Donegal dwellers, there’ve been rumours for years that the Sinn Fein leadership has been “hiding” its known child abusers among us. Turns out there may be some fire under this smoke!

Also, although there are parallels and connections, there is no need to assume RC involvement in this – IRA/Sinn Fein also inhabits a rarified universe of their own making, with their own rules, their own selective obedience to the law of the land, and their own separate enforcement procedures, and a very threadbare sense of loyalty to what most of us consider the “common good.”

I’m not suggesting that there are RC connections. I’m just speculating on whether the thing may have disturbed some of his certainties.

Yes, Bock, I do understand you. And I think you’re right – “certainties” are a key word here for this individual.

But it is worth pointing out that any secretive, hierarchical organisation with only a loose sense of commitment to the greater public good here and now, will probably repeat the same mistakes – ie protect the institution – and the “cause” – rather than the individual.

Both of these organisations – RC and SF – have strong codes that involve the sacrifice of the individual for some greater cause – I rest my case.

Superb article Bock. In relation to your final question, I’d say yes (if he was aware of the extent of the abuse at the time) the very fact that having such knowledge would surely have influenced his thinking.

For some strange reason, it all reminded me of a story that Borges wrote. I think it was in Labyrinths, but it might have been in Fictions. I’m not sure. It was called the Theme of the Traitor and the Hero, and it was about a fictional Irish figure called Fergus Kilpatrik (sic) who orchestrated his own murder to make up for his betrayal of the “movement” and to keep the people faithful. His biographer discovers the deceit and subsequently falsifies the biography, thereby becoming part of the deception.

“Did I ever think I’d find myself writing a title like that?”

Well the SF education minister refused to ban sex offenders working with kids. And SF has snubbed child protectionists as a bloc measure. Child protection and SF are not positively associated in the same breath. SF have a child safe sex offender theory. They just don’t get it. If you like, they’re much the same as the resigning bishops – hypocrites.

As for Gerry Adams ‘reaction’: I think it was formed by a mixture of shame and fear.
As for the phenomenon in general, I came to think of the German word Korpsgeist.
Trying to find a close English match, I stumbled upon this: ‘Morale is unrelated to morality (the ability to distinguish right and wrong).’ Quite!
As for Kilpatrick: Ficciones / Fictions.

The two ‘Pied Pipers’ who have fucked up Ireland:
The followers of Gerry Adams were ‘conditioned’ to focus on the euphoric vision of a United Ireland while the followers of the Vatican could only see eternal salvation in heaven.
The slick bastards who were watching this stupidity from a distance saw their chance and took it. They looted the country while a good section of the population were standing for the Nation Anthem with the rest praying.
Tragically, little will change in our lifetime.

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