Friday, 14 November 2008

Adams overeggs the irony pudding

The kind approach would be to ignore Gerry Adams’ latest outpourings, regarding them with contempt which they undoubtedly deserve, but so laced with hypocrisy are comments delivered to a fundraising dinner in New York, the temptation to dissect some of the choicest morsels is simply too great.

Sinn Féin’s president increasingly resembles a cranky old uncle of the provo family, seeking to compensate his waning influence by delivering intemperate barrages from the chair in the corner. Unfortunately the authority which Adams does retain is sufficient to ensure that his increasingly intractable tone exerts a baleful influence on the situation at Stormont, as Mark Devenport intimates on his blog.

The most emotive of Adams’ remarks is of course that which likened unionists to Afrikaners, a statement which falls short of comparisons Mary McAleese and Father Reid drew between unionists and Nazis, but is clearly pregnant with implication that nationalists suffered something comparable to apartheid in Northern Ireland. Whilst it is clearly intended to offend, Adams’ ‘Afrikaner’ jibe is merely indicative of the objectionable tone which he is cultivating especially keenly at the moment. The richest irony and plummiest hypocrisy can be savoured elsewhere in Adams’ pudding of a speech.

Take this contention, delivered almost in the same breath in which ‘Mr Pot’ accused unionists of having an ‘Afrikaner wing’ and characterised them as ‘petty, mean-spirited and negative’,

“By working closely with the unionists; by being patient and strategic; by recognising unionist concerns and fears on the one hand, and challenging bigotry and prejudice on the other, it is possible to make progress.”

Working closely with unionists! Sinn Féin has refused to hold an executive meeting with either unionists or fellow nationalists in one hundred and fifty days. If that represents ‘working closely’, one would hardly wish to witness what the party adjudges an intractable approach to represent! If anyone is exhibiting patience in Northern Ireland’s present political impasse, it is the three other executive parties stoically awaiting Sinn Féin’s return to the executive table.

And how can the provisionals expect to challenge bigotry and prejudice on one hand, yet create it on the other? Scarcely a fortnight ago Adams was rejecting the validity of British soldiers marching in Belfast on the basis that it is ‘Ireland’s second city’. He was explicitly repudiating principles of tolerance, diversity and pluriculturalism that day and yet he presumes to challenge bigotry and prejudice now! If Adams wishes to combat bigotry and prejudice he should start by taking lessons from the mayor of Derry City Council.

SF’s president claims his party’s project is about ‘nation building’. I presume that the nation he wishes to build is predicated on a 32 county Irish Republic. If his party is serious about wishing unionists to be part of that nation, it should begin to demonstrate its bona fides and show disinclination to drive every vestige that is perceived as British from this island.

If Sinn Féin cannot stomach aspects of Britishness in Northern Ireland, which it has agreed will remain part of the UK until a majority here decide otherwise, what are the chances that it would tolerate perceived British culture in a 32 county state?


Aidan said...

Is you main issue here with the comparison to Afrikaners or with the implication that the Northern Ireland state has had features similar to apartheid?
I am interested in your views on this without reference to Gerry Adams because a lot of what you wrote in your post is centred on him rather than on what he said.

Chekov said...

I do not accept the implication that Northern Ireland bears comparison to South Africa. Most serious scholars are of the same opinion. I also clearly stated that whilst Adams knew this would be offensive to unionists the most ironic aspect of his discourse was his analysis of SF's tactics given the recent signals it has been sending out. That is pretty clearly centred on what he said.

Aidan said...

If he spoke of an Afrikaner wing surely he wasn't comparing the two historical regimes (apartheid SA, pre-1969 NI)?
I would read that to mean the wing of unionism that wants a Protestant homeland at whatever cost (not really unionism thus). I think it was derogatively refered to as 'Prodestan' once on Unionist Lite. There is a strong Afrikaner movement to set up a homeland of their own within South Africa so I think that there is some similarity in thinking at least.

Chekov said...

I acknowledged in my piece that the comments were far from the most problematic aspect of Adams' address, but clearly they were meant to offend. 'Prodistan' etc. is all very well, but Adams should concentrate on taking the beam out of his own eye.

O'Neill said...

Whilst it is clearly intended to offend, Adams’ ‘Afrikaner’ jibe is merely indicative of the objectionable tone which he is cultivating especially keenly at the moment.

When I heard he was going to be speaking in the US, I was sure we were going to hear the even staler ""Catholic" (another adjective increasingly being used by SF) nationalists" = "Afro-Americans in Segregated US" comparisons. Marty Millar, on his blog, even compared cop-killer Paul Butler to the freedom riders recently!!

But the audience that Grizzly attracts in the States tends to be an ultra-conservative, white and not to put too fine a point on it, bigotted one both in terms of race and religion

Drawing comparisons too close to home would have had the provos' American redneck pals shifting uncomfortably on their (expensive) barstools, hence the old Afrikanners' jibe, far enough away to have no relevance to the SFKKK's good ole boys.