The New Yorker has just published a surprisingly in-depth article on Jean McConville and Irish history in the North – just in time to take advantage of the 15 minutes that most Americans devote annually to Ireland around St. Patrick’s Day. It’s brilliant timing and the article is very well done, even if it does rehash a lot of old information and it is certainly another strike at Gerry Adams and his past. It is clear yet again that this case will continue to haunt those who may be involved in it. No matter what side of the spectrum politically that you may fall on, this case was undeniably brutal. A single mother of ten, Jean McConville, was dragged out of her home at Divis Flats in front of her children, and wasn’t seen again until her body was discovered decades later. She is one of the “Disappeared” – people who were murdered by the Irish Republican Army whose bodies were never supposed to be discovered. Her story is the albatross around Gerry Adams’ neck and one that will never disappear again.
It has not been a good week for Mr. Adams. He is being hit again with the allegations of involvement in the (p)IRA that have always followed him. Between this new article, the multiple interviews in the Boston College Oral history disaster that point to his paramilitary past, and the numerous allegations about the sexual abuse some had suffered at the hands of Republicans in the kangaroo courts, he is in another publicity nightmare. There’s mounting pressure to reveal everything he knew and when he knew it about a whole lot of open cases – and he doesn’t seem able to escape any of it these days. He still remains silent on all of it – and was not interviewed by the New Yorker for this new piece, despite multiple requests from the author. He continues to claim that those who are naming him as a former Officer Commanding of the Irish Republican Army are simply enemies of the peace process, even though many of these allegations come from those he once considered close friends. This black cloud of doubt never stops following him and it doesn’t seem like it ever will.
At one point, he may have been able to just admit his involvement in the Irish Republican Army and not have it effect his mercurial rise in politics. After all, it did not adversely effect Martin McGuinness, who has risen with him. Now he may have lost that window of opportunity though, because admitting it in the midst of constant new allegations would land him in the center of multiple investigations. While everything remains hearsay and circumstantial, he has a little wiggle room, even though it must feel like that room is shrinking with every new piece.
Those pieces keep coming, including this new one from the New Yorker. It’s clear that the ghost of Jean McConville is going to haunt Gerry Adams forever, but no matter how many times they are connected, he seems to be able to weather the storm…so far.
Horrific story. . .after reading and thinking about it, we as Americans, 1st world inhabitants, or those of Irish descent have no right to say the Middle East is full of “crazy” religious people–the provisional IRA, as opposed to the traditional IRA of Michael Collins et al., showed a startling lack of humanity in butchering their own neighbors and countrymen, where as Muslim Big Bad Terrorists such as the 9/11 terrorists focused their crime on innocents a world away from their own. Deranged, yes, but somehow less deranged then those who would foul their own nest. The old IRA was brutal, yes, but there was a baseline of humanity to their ruthless actions–also, the old IRA was dealing with a level of violence from the British that was far higher than that faced by the provisional IRA and Gerry Adams. There were no Black and Tans at the time of The Troubles. . .important article by the New Yorker.
I may have to disagree a little, though I understand what you are saying. Any judgement on those who believe they are at war or risk is a difficult one, especially after seeing the continuing troubles and the visible scars in the North. As Americans, we really don’t know what it is like to be occupied by a foreign force – we threw off that mantle as soon as possible and were lucky enough to have a vast ocean between us, allowing it to succeed. Ireland has had no such luck.
It is easy to view 1916 and that period in Irish history as a grand a noble fight, because that is how it is sold but Michael Collins was an incredibly brutal strategist. So were most of the operations of that era all around – English and Irish. I hesitate to say that the Troubles didn’t have that kind of oppression or violence from the Brits, because it did. The difference is that it was more covert and insidious, using collusion and paramilitary forces to accomplish what the government couldn’t be seen doing. They didn’t have the Black and Tans but they had the Butchers and a whole lot of other horrifying things to deal with. It’s important to be sensitive to that too – and to see that NO side was more brutal than the other – and people of all persuasions were caught up in the middle. There were (and are) no winners and no one who doesn’t feel the pains of loss on either side – crippling and horrible loss.
For me, it’s important to look at all sides and to know as much as possible, accepting that there are no quick solutions.
It’s easy to say I support a free Ireland…especially since I didn’t have to live through the Troubles of ANY period throughout the long and sordid history. It’s harder to look at the mistakes, the brutality, the victims, and the actions on both sides done either in the name of that cause or to stop it and to imagine what it must be like to still be living in that kind of environment. I know what I do and do not support, here in my “easy” American ideals. The rest…well it’s all shades of grey and all I can do is continue to learn what I can and be as sensitive and as empathetic as possible…knowing that all kinds of ‘crazies’ are perfectly sane and all kinds of ‘good guys’ have done terrible things worldwide. Our politicians in the US not excepted