Same Difference? – Bertie Ahern and Gerry Adams
February 8, 2010

Bertie Ahern was one of the most popular Taoisigh in Ireland, winning three Election victories, and was the second longest-serving Taoiseach in Ireland.   Reigning Ireland at the height of the Celtic Tiger, and a massive property boom in Ireland, he cemented the trust of the people who agreed with him, when he blasted those who warned the boom could not last,  as ‘begrudgers’. When Bertie told the people the “Boom was getting Boomier” they believed him.  And while some may have been aghast at his suicide comment they did not argue that those who criticized him or were predicting a massive bust, were “sitting on the sidelines cribbing and moaning

Bertie’s longevity was further enabled by the loyalty of his party members who refused to question Bertie, no matter what he said or did, and from the public who were mindlessly devoted to him. They believed he was just like them, the guy next door who liked a pint and watched the football. Bertie the “Teflon Taoiseach”, seemed immune from the financial allegations against him.  We all know that Teflon have great non stick pans, until you start using steel cooking utensils on them.

And so it was with Bertie in the end, death by a thousand steel spatulas.  As the financial allegations against Bertie Ahern continued he claimed “I have done no wrong and have wronged no one“, but the spatulas kept scrapping away at the Teflon until he resigned in May 2008.

So can similarities be drawn between Bertie Ahern and Gerry Adams?

There is no doubting Gerry’s popularity especially in West Belfast where he has consistently been reelected as MP since 1983 until today, apart from one fall from grace, when he lost his seat to the SDLP in 1991, regaining it again in 1997.  He is harsh on his critics, accusing them, as does Bertie, of being begrudgers.  Gerry goes further to label them also as dissidents, or of having a political axe to grind.  The recent allegations of child abuse by Sinn Fein members, not least Adam’s brother Liam, and the subsequent allegations of the covering up of child abuse, have been met with a stony-faced denial that he has done anything wrong, much as Bertie claimed, followed by counter-accusations that “political opponents have also very cynically sought to exploit this personal family trauma in a most offensive way.

Gerry Adams told UTV’s Insight program that he believed his niece, when she told him how her father had abused her since she was four years old. Yet Aine claimed in the same program that she felt that Liam was turning into the victim, and that Gerry had said ‘It was hard to know, who stole the apples from the cart”.   Who could forget Bertie Ahern imploring people not to “upset the apple tart” ?

Gerry’s followers and Party Members are all too willing to trust him; their mindless devotion to him won’t allow them to question the glaring inconsistencies in his timelines regarding his actions towards Liam after the child abuse disclosure was made by his niece. Not unlike Bertie’s followers who refused to believe the financial allegations against him, no matter how thick and fast they were coming in.

When Bertie Ahern reassured the people that the “boom was getting boomier” despite all evidence to the contrary, his followers did not question him, and those that did where “begrudgers

Gerry Adams’ followers similarly believe what Gerry tells them.  When he stated “The time has long passed for the transfer of powers on policing and justice. There can be no preconditions to that. Not on the Parades Commission; not on marches; not on equality and partnership government”  His followers agreed: yet when Sinn Fein  come out of the negotiations with the scrapping of the Parades commission,  not to worry, this has already been packaged up and sold as a victory for Sinn Fein and the people or Party Members do not question him.

By the end of the year there will also be the transfer of powers from London to Belfast to deal with the issue of parades. Key to this is agreeing a framework that provides for local solutions. Sounds good doesn’t it?  But Gerry Adams previously stated that “They (The DUP) want the scrapping of the Parades Commission and progress on the ground – in other words marches through Catholic areas.”

For those who dare to question why Sinn Fein gave in to this precondition, or might be worried about possible outcomes of the scrapping of the Parades Commission, Gerry Adams has the answer   “No one should feel nervous about any of this” Wasn’t he the one that was telling us previous to this, that the scrapping of the Parades Commission would equate to marches through Catholic Areas?

Woe to anyone who would criticize Sinn Feins negotiation skills or wonder why they conceded to the DUP, rather than call an early election where the faithful followers believe Sinn Fein would become the Largest Party in Northern Ireland.  “Of course, there will be some who will rail against it. The naysayers and begrudgers will study the detail of the agreement seeking points of criticism. But they are the minority. The vast majority of people in the north and on this island want this process to work. Public opinion in recent weeks has overwhelmingly favoured a deal” said Gerry Adams in his most recent blog.

The failure of Sinn Fein to ‘go nuclear’ as promised, if preconditions on Parading where insisted upon by the DUP, could be an indicator that they have no appetite for an election at this stage.  Gerry should keep watch for those steel spatula’s, but it is my guess that much like Bertie who was gone before the extent of the toxicity of the Irish Banks became known and the cosy relationships between Bank Manager, property developers and  Fianna Fail was exposed, he will be  gone before the  full extent of the failure of the Good Friday Agreement is realised by the masses.

Two Party Leaders who would like to be remembered by the History books for their contribution to the Peace Process, are in real danger of being remembered instead for personal allegations against them.  It remains to be seen if Gerry Adams will suffer a similar fate to Bertie Ahern.

Mutley    8. 2. 2010

The Politics of Sexual Abuse
February 5, 2010

WorldbyStorm has written over at the Cedar Lounge Revolution under the heading “As the Dust Settles” about the propriety of discussing or not discussing Gerry Adams’ actions (and inactions) in relation to abuse of his niece.

WbS’s first comment is that this may go to trial, and a future trial should not be prejudiced.  This is a good point and one that should always be born in mind.  There is a lot more though.  He goes on to ask if the matter should be discussed at all in a political blog, if it is not a political issue.  He suggests that it would only have become political if there had been a backlash against Sinn Fein in the polls.  WbS then says that Sinn Fein’s moves towards left alliances don’t necessarily give the left a right to ask questions on this.   Then, he asks – is the personal indistinguishable from the political ?  And finally, are Sinn Fein and Adams one and the same thing ?

Primarily it begs the question is this a political matter at this point in time? There have been no resignations or protests within SF over this matter. There has been, bar one or two peripheral interjections, no serious political attacks on Adams or SF by their opponents. There have been no attempts that one can tell from reading the media by the governments or by Nationalists, Republicans or non-aligned people generally to protest. There is no evidence that this has altered in the immediate past – or during the current talks – the policy positions of either SF or other parties North or South. And if it were to hang heavily upon those involved in the talks the bizarre events surrounding other politicians would – one presumes – cancel out their effect. In other words, what then particularly is the political issue as it stands at the moment that can be pointed at that relates to this? And if there is none so far evident then what are the political ramifications?

Plenty of reasons there to settle the dust – indeed a reflex to encourage this particular dust to settle seems to have occurred throughout the body politic and much of the general public.  The reasons for this are worth a separate examination on another occasion.

I certainly wouldn’t want to prejudice a trial, but WorldbyStorm’s other arguments don’t convince me.   This is far from the first time that there have been allegations of sexual abuse in parties of the left, internationally and not the first discussion of the subject.   The exposure of sexual abuse in the Church has raised conciousness  that institutionalised abuse is a social and political phenomenon, not just a personal flaw.

What has struck me forcibly about the public, press and politicians’ reactions to the Adams predicament is precisely the absence of discussion of the politics of sex abuse in Ireland.  Could sexual abuse in the Republican movement mean something different to sexual abuse the Church, where it was patently part of the means of social control and exploitation of the working class ?  Working class boys, girls and young women were made into unpaid slaves, objects for personal gratification and a source of income to sustain a layer of religious whose role was to support social hierarchies.  The Church became an extension to the State, with Gardai returning escaped young people back to these work camps.

Sexual abuse is exploitation that takes place in situations where there is inequality and uncontrolled power.  There have been instances of abuse of women party members or family members in the past in parties of the left and it appears, republican parties, going back at least to the 1970s.  Advantage was cynically taken of devotion and loyalty of the victimised families.  But this betrayal of loyalty not only hurts the individual but it also hurts the party.

A pattern of abuse or cover up of abuse by leading figures of any progressive party, should it occur, would be highly symptomatic that the politics or the organisation had become sick, or that there was infiltration and abuse was used as a weapon to demoralise, or both.  It is divisive within an organisation, destructive of morale and leaves the party wide open to blackmail or public exposure.

A party founded to obtain social justice and equality, if it had not been corrupted and politically derailed, would not tolerate abuse.    There has been no trial as yet, nor is there any sign of one.   The dust may or not be settling.  Both a trial and a lot more discussion of the politics of sexual abuse might help to sweep it away.

Cactusflower   5.2.2010