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Michael McDowell: Adams lets the mask slip

Former Sinn Féin leader’s Christmas sketch video deeply offensive to IRA victims

Buoyed up by greatly increased opinion poll support, the Sinn Féin hierarchy has let the mask slip a little. Gerry Adams recorded a video Christmas card which was simply revolting.

It wasn’t satirical. It wasn’t funny – even by the lowest standard of wit – the kind that features an elected Sinn Féin MLA posing online with a Kingsmill bread loaf on the anniversary of that infamous, cowardly sectarian slaughter by the Provos in 1976 of 10 textile workers chosen because they were Protestants.

They were singled out from a group of workers travelling home together and riddled with automatic gunfire. One man survived despite receiving 18 bullet wounds. The lone Catholic worker was identified as such and let go.

No offence meant? Just a little bit of humour? Lighten up! It's Christmas after all!

For young voters attracted by Sinn Féin’s claims to know how to solve our housing problems, that massacre may seem sufficiently long ago to excuse satirical online postings about it. After all, they weren’t even born when that happened in 1976.


The new video, now taken down by its creators but still available online, features a “mature” Gerry Adams, looking ever more like a cross between Karl Marx and Santa Claus, singing “Tiocfaidh ár lá . . . lá, lá, lá, lá” to the tune of the carol Deck the Halls.

Just as it seemed okay to laugh about Kingsmill – laugh in the face of the relatives of the victims – it is now okay to make a skit of the fact that the IRA still exists and is waiting in the wings for its day to come.

To IRA victims and their loved ones, it was deeply, deeply offensive.

Offensive and divisive

And the strange thing about Sinn Féin is that they just can’t see what is wrong with this kind of offensive and divisive sectarian carry-on. They purport to be republican. They venerate Wolfe Tone. And yet they demand the right to alienate Irish victims of their murder campaign in pursuit of polarising politics up north.

No offence meant? Just a little bit of humour? Lighten up! It’s Christmas after all!

One person who found it hard to see the funny side of the Adams video was Ann Travers, whose 22-year-old sister, Mary, was murdered by the IRA in April 1984, accompanying her father, a Catholic magistrate and thus an IRA target, Thomas Travers, on the way home from Mass.

Thomas Travers, who was shot six times but survived, wrote movingly to this paper on her 10th anniversary calling the IRA killers “a brutal and evil criminal organisation”.

'They' think that the independent Irish state is illegitimate. 'They' believe that the IRA's army council is still the only legitimate voice of the Republic proclaimed in 1916

One of those involved in Mary’s murder received a life sentence and was later appointed by the clique which controls Sinn Féin to be a special adviser in the Stormont executive.

Understandably, Ann Travers said of the Adams video that anyone who thought it funny “lacks emotional intelligence”. Should she lighten up?

The deeper question about the use of Adams’s phrase “They haven’t gone away, you know” is “Why haven’t they gone away?”

IRA campaign

Just who are the “They” who haven’t gone away? It is the same group of men in the background who ran the 30-year IRA campaign murdering more Irish than British; who organised the Northern Bank robbery, kidnappings and extortion; who ruthlessly impose a “no dissent” policy in Sinn Féin; who deselect public representatives; and who chose the “support staff” assigned to Sinn Féin’s Oireachtas members in Leinster house.

The same “They” oversaw the ever-so-spontaneous funeral for Bobby Storey in Belfast. The Garda Commissioner and the PSNI chief constable both consider that “They” have a leading role in determining Sinn Féin policy. “They” are the people who haven’t gone away.

It’s a bit of a laugh, all right, when you think of it. “They” think that the independent Irish state is illegitimate. “They” believe that the IRA’s army council is still the only legitimate voice of the Republic proclaimed in 1916.

Should we worry? This week, Rebecca Solnit, a US columnist for the Guardian, wrote brilliantly about Donald Trump’s coup attempt. The recently revealed PowerPoint presentation delivered up by Trump’s chief of staff, Mark Meadows, demonstrates that Trump’s inner circle were planning a coup from the White House on January fifth and sixth this year. Invasion of the Capitol was part of the plan to prevent the election of Joe Biden by a majority of US citizens.

And “They” in Ireland think that their day has come. “They” are now coming for your vote.

If “They” are still around and haven’t gone away, just ask yourself what their leadership will be proposing to hold on to power in coming years.