Gerry Adams unlikely to get bitten at Big Apple fundraiser

Joan Collins claims water charge is Government’s poll tax and will bring down Kenny

Gerry Adams: told Taoiseach he walked on Saturday in the protests against water charges. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Gerry Adams: told Taoiseach he walked on Saturday in the protests against water charges. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

When times are rough, it’s good to have friends.

Just like the song says: “Sometimes you want to go/ Where everybody knows your name/And they’re always glad you came.”

Gerry Adams must be counting down the hours so, because he’s been having a torrid time of it lately, and it didn’t get much better for him in Leinster House yesterday.

He’s feeling very hard done by over the Maíria Cahill controversy and said yesterday that people are using the issue to “smear” him. And if that wasn’t bad enough, people are accusing him of doing a brazen U-turn over his payment of the water charges. But respite looms for the Sinn Féin leader.

He’s is in New York tomorrow for the Friends of Sinn Féin annual fundraising dinner. They’ll give him a sympathetic ear.

Not to mention cocktails and a slap-up meal in the Sheraton Hotel on Seventh Avenue in Manhattan.

About 600 guests are expected with tickets costing an eye-watering $500 (€370) a plate.

At that price, at least Gerry won’t have people complaining to him about water charges and the like.

Pearse Doherty is also due to address the bash. Mary Lou McDonald is listed on the ticket as a speaker, but we’re not sure now if she will attend.

After the few weeks he’s just had, a few days in the Big Apple might cheer Gerry up.

He’s had a tough time.

Twisting and turning over the water charges.

Twisting and turning over how the IRA moved sex offenders from their ranks to other jurisdictions.

Then yesterday, when he took to the Leinster House plinth to address the issue of water charges, he was confronted with questions about the appropriateness or otherwise of some of his tweets.

It must be said, they are rather creepy for a man of his age.

When TV3’s Ursula Halligan quoted a verse from a poem he tweeted a number of days after his brother Liam had been jailed for the rape of his young daughter, Gerry highlighted a poem which was sent to him by a young family member.

“It’s a wonderful poem,” he said.

“I like Maya Angelou,” chimed in Mary Lou.

Unsettling tweets

She gave no opinion on the standard of her leader’s often unsettling tweets.

Back inside Leinster House, water charges took precedence at Leaders’ Questions.

Given that his Government has been badly winded by the public’s reaction to the woefully bad handling of the introduction of water charges, the Taoiseach put a brave face on the matter as he was barracked by the Opposition.

Joan Collins of the Anti-Austerity Alliance declared that this charge is the Government’s poll tax and it’ll bring down Enda Kenny as surely as it took down Margaret Thatcher.

Later on, Socialist Joe Higgins demanded the charges be abolished.

“If you persist, you will go down to perdition on this issue” he quivered. The country is “in a state of social insurrection” and “electoral revolution”.

“Is it time to step down Irish Water?” asked the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin.

“Actually, its time for Irish Water to step up,” retorted Enda, in his best line of the day.

Mind you, he diluted it considerably with his “hope” that the Government would have the entire sorry situation sorted out “in the next couple of weeks”.

Clarity and certainty

People want clarity and certainty, said the Taoiseach, in a statement of the blindingly obvious.

Anytime now, hopefully.

And to illustrate how hard they are working to put things right, Enda said that the Minister for the Environment was off visiting a sewage treatment works in Ringsend.

There was cheer in the chamber when Alan Kelly arrived back. “The Minister has just come back from there,” said the Taoiseach, like Kelly had just trekked in from the Amazon basin.

Gerry Adams (not long now until New York) accused Enda of waffle. Gerry said he knew the mood of the people. He spoke of the marches against the water charges on Saturday. “I was there with them.”

He’ll not be paying his water charges now. In Dundalk at the weekend, he saw elderly people and they were afraid.

Perhaps they had read his tweets.

“You changed your tune,” sneered the Taoiseach, pointing out that the Sinn Féin leader said a couple of weeks ago that he was going to pay the water charges, and then “you saw the lie of the land” and decided not to pay them on his holiday home in Donegal.

“Utter populism,” he harrumphed, without a trace of admiration.

When they moved on to the order of business, Gerry went into victim mode when Micheál Martin asked when the debate on the “abuse within the Sinn Féin/IRA movement” was happening.

Next week, said the Taoiseach.

Took exception

Adams took “exception” to Martin’s talk of abuse “within Sinn Féin/IRA”. Then he told the Ceann Comhairle that he had written to him about the way the Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader “conducted themselves” during last week’s discussion on the matter.

Martin exploded. “How dare he! He will not shut me up anytime soon, I can tell him that. How dare he!” he roared. “Are you trying to suppress the freedom of speech in Dáil Éireann?How dare you talk to about how I conducted myself.”

It got rather heated.

At least Gerry has a nice couple of dinners in New York and New Jersey to cool things down a bit.

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