Gerry Adams and ‘cynical opportunism’


Sir, – Not for the first time Vincent Browne tells us that despite Gerry Adams’s involvement with the IRA during the Troubles – a role which your columnist does nothing to minimise or deny – he should be judged only on his alleged role in achieving peace (“Cynical opportunism over Stack case”, Opinion & Analysis, December 14th). Mr Adams may have played a part in arranging the IRA ceasefires but few, including Browne, dispute his role in the Troubles. Perhaps, as Browne suggests, IRA atrocities would have occurred without Gerry Adams; what is indisputable is that his abilities and determination kept the republican campaign of violence in place for far longer than the previous episodes of IRA activity.

The second IRA ceasefire was not announced until 1997, which was 19 years after the date Browne gives for the start of Gerry Adams’s period as a leading figure in the IRA. Nineteen years is not a short period of time; it is more than three times the length of the second World War. And the Provisional IRA, a body with which Gerry Adams was associated from its inception, was active for the best part of 40 years: well over three times the combined duration of both World Wars. Mr Adams’s peacemaking talents appear to have emerged with glacial slowness.

Vincent Browne wants us to judge Gerry Adams by a lower standard of behaviour than we use to assess politicians who have never been linked with violence.

The sexual and financial misdeeds of other public representatives are reprehensible but they are minor in comparison with terrorism. – Yours, etc,