Sinn Féin TDs differ over whether Gerry Adams should apologise for Christmas sketch

David Cullinane and Matt Carthy insist former party leader has nothing to say sorry for but Eoin Ó Broin disagrees

Sinn Féin TDs have expressed differing views over whether or not former party leader Gerry Adams should apologise for his part in a Christmas video that has since been withdrawn following complaints from victims of the Provisional IRA.

Waterford TD David Cullinane and Cavan-Monaghan Deputy Matt Carthy said Mr Adams did not have anything to say sorry for, while Dublin’s Eoin Ó Broin had previously called on him to apologise.

The video featured Mr Adams, the former Sinn Féin president, in a comedy sketch in which he sings “Tis the season to be jolly, tiocfaidh ár lá, lá, lá, lá”.

In the sketch, Mr Adams visits a house as a carol singer and the homeowner repeats a slogan first used by Mr Adams in August 1995 in relation to the Provisional IRA: “They haven’t gone away you know.”


Mr Cullinane said Mr Adams had nothing to apologise for and the context in which the sketch was recorded should be taken into consideration.

“This was a video that was done for a charity and I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever that this was done with the best of intentions. This was done for the Foyle Search and Rescue, which is an organisation that does incredible work and saves people’s lives.

“I don’t believe anybody from that organisation or indeed Gerry Adams set out to offend anybody and no, I don’t believe Gerry Adams has anything to apologise for.

“My understanding is that the video has been removed and has been withdrawn and I think that is appropriate and I think that should be the end of it.”

Mr Cullinane himself drew controversy last year when he shouted “Up the ‘Ra. Tiocfaidh ár Lá” at the end of a victory speech after the general election. He subsequently apologised.

Bryan Dobson on RTÉ’s News at One programme on Tuesday asked Mr Cullinane if he was now saying to victims of IRA violence that “they just have to suck this up”.

Mr Cullinane replied: “That’s not what I’m saying and what I’ve said very clearly is that this video was done for a charity. I made a mistake in the past and I put my hands up. I accepted that and I apologised.

“I don’t think Gerry Adams made a mistake. I think the context was different. I’ve explained the difference.”

‘Different views’

Earlier, Mr Carthy, speaking to Claire Byrne on RTÉ Radio 1 on Tuesday morning, said of the video: “Different people will have different views in terms of whether it’s actually funny or not.

“But it was done for a good cause. It was done to raise money for Derry search and rescue operations and to my mind that’s the context that it has to be taken in.”

The presenter put it to Mr Carthy that phrases such as “Tiocfaidh ár lá” and “They haven’t gone away you know” were very upsetting for some people.

“It may well be but ‘Tiocfaidh ár lá’ is a political phrase. I’ve used it myself in my own lifetime. I don’t consider that it’s a basis for someone to have to apologise.”

The presenter then put it to Mr Carthy that Mr Ó Broin had said Mr Adams should apologise.

“I didn’t hear Eoin Ó Broin’s remarks but I don’t think that Gerry Adams has anything to apologise for,” Mr Carthy said. He said Mr Adams was retired.

“I don’t think anybody could suggest that Gerry Adams doesn’t understand reconciliation. He has done a huge amount for peace in our country. He has played a pivotal role in the development of the peace process, in bringing about an end to violence.

“As I say, he’s retired from public life. He’s engaged in a number of activities and one of the activities he’s engaged in is to support a charity and he did.”

During his radio contribution Mr Carthy responded to criticism from Fine Gael Minister of State Peter Burke on the video.

Mr Carthy claimed: “This was a request that [came] through to Gerry Adams from a charity organisation that provided the script.

“Gerry Adams participated in it.

“I think there are some who are trying to manipulate that for petty party politics.”

Mr Carthy took to Twitter on Tuesday evening to correct his remarks.

He said: “I want to clarify that script came from film makers and not [Foyle Search and Rescue] who are completely non-political and played no role in the video.”

Mr Carthy confirmed to The Irish Times that the charity contacted him to ask him to make the clarification.

Online Christmas card

The video sketch featuring Mr Adams had appeared as an online Christmas card with the greeting “Have a Gerry Christmas”.

The greeting card company later withdrew the video and the greeting card after families of IRA victims raised their concerns.

Ferry Clever, the Derry-based company behind the video and Christmas card, said its business is based on “satirical comedy” and that it was “never our intention to offend anyone”. It was intended to raise money for Foyle Search and Rescue, which patrols Derry’s riverways engaging with people in distress.

In an interview for Déise Today on WLR FM, Mr Ó Broin said “Tiocfaidh ár lá” was a “long-standing political slogan and I don’t have a problem with it being used”.

However, the Dublin Mid-West TD said people should be careful with their language with reconciliation in mind.

Asked by presenter Damien Tiernan should Mr Adams apologise, Mr Ó Broin replied: “Let me say one thing before I give you a straight yes or no answer. I don’t believe for a second Gerry either intended to cause hurt or offence to anybody; I really don’t. But given the fact that offence has been caused, yes, I think for him to apologise for the offence that has been caused would be helpful.”

Mr Ó Broin said: “Tiocfaidh ár lá is a political slogan. It means ‘our day will come’ and for republicans like me when that phrase is said it means our day will come in terms of a united Ireland.

“It is a long-standing political slogan and I don’t have a problem with it being used. But what I’m saying to you is: as we are navigating our way out of conflict . . . all of us have to be very mindful of the language that we use. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop using all of the language of the past.

“I am acutely aware that the past happened. There is nothing I can do to undo the hurt or pain or trauma that republicans, including some people I have worked with directly and very closely for many years, have caused. What I can do, and David Cullinane and our generation of republicans, is: one, make sure we never have a return to conflict ever again and, two, we all do everything we can to build as peaceful and as united a future as possible.

“Will we make mistakes along the way? Yes we will and I’m a long-standing believer that if you make a mistake hold your hand up and apologise and learn from your mistake.”

The full interview with Mr Ó Broin was aired on Tuesday morning on Déise Today on WLR FM.