Will McConville controversy sink Adams?
Adams’s aura now has a matt rather than a gloss finish
Gerry Adams: is still sufficiently powerful and totemic to go when he wants to go
Yes, is the short answer.
It depends on Martin McGuinness and on whether Gerry Adams has the stomach to remain in the political fight, is the longer one.
It’s a paradox of Irish politics that any “ordinary” politician clueless about how to release the safety catch on an AK47 would be speedily and figuratively terminated with extreme prejudice if he was in anything close to the trouble facing the Sinn Féin president. Yet, Adams with his denied IRA history survives.
It’s his paramilitary past that saves him. With the Adams-McGuinness duumvirate currently remaining solid what greysuit in Sinn Féin would have the moxy to say, “Gerry, I think it’s time to start working on your great book, My Fight for Powersharing at Stormont”?
Anyway, Adams and McGuinness are the SF greysuits.
And what upstart up-and-coming Sinn Féiner would seek to usurp him? Gerry Adams’ aura now has a matt rather than a gloss finish, but would, say, a Pearse Doherty or a Mary Lou McDonald have the temerity to shaft him?
Hardly. It’d be like Fianna Fáil dumping Éamon de Valera in 1932 or Manchester United sacking Alex Ferguson. It’d be like the Tories dumping Margaret Thatcher . . . No, no discount that last comparison. At the moment, Adams is still sufficiently powerful and totemic to go when he wants to go – just as were Dev and Fergie.
He can brassneck the current controversy over the Disappeared, regardless of the allegation and the attendant image of a helpless widowed mother-of-10 being ordered to a secret execution.
The claim that he didn’t do well by his niece Áine Adams is more problematic.
There are inquiry reports yet to be delivered that could tarnish him and his party further.
What also could undo Adams is wounded vanity and consequent wounds to Sinn Féin. North and South, his opponents will use variations of the slur heard in the Assembly this week of the “paedophile-protecting president”.
Can he and his party continue to hardneck that abuse?
Different issues, of course, but his situation is not unlike that of Peter Robinson, who faced a political and personal crisis over the Irisgate affair in 2010. Robinson was nearly swamped, but ultimately had the tenacity, conceit and ambition not to be overcome. The Sinn Féin president may act similarly – if Martin McGuinness sticks by him – and who could countenance such a Shakespearean betrayal?
It’s down to whether a politically and emotionally hurt Adams feels it’s all still worth the candle. And that is a question only Gerry Adams can answer.