My first reaction to the now defunct Christmas video by Gerry Adams was that ‘he had murdered a good tune’.
The responses to the video and the dutiful view of the Deputy First Minister that it was’ just a bit of craic’ provide sanguine evidence that individuals and groups within all communities emerging from conflict, do not take kindly to any display of insensitivity or frivolity from a key player, linked with self-professed combatants, in a 30 year war that has left a legacy of a deeply felt loss.
That this should happen at a time of year when those feelings are all the more poignant, is particularly ‘crass.’
It is not making a political point to suggest that it presents as a deep lack in human values along with a failure to understand that a political narrative that continues to justify violence, some of which was barbaric, in pursuit of an imagined ‘sacred cause’ is not universally endorsed.
As a long-time president of Provisional Sinn Féin, much of this, whether reactive or proactive happened on Gerry Adam’s watch. The term ‘dirty war’ is well named. Combatants and accomplices on all sides have limited claim on ‘heroic narratives.’
Intentionally or otherwise, the video, due to its messaging and central character merely presents as filtering light through a polluted space; to divert a too forensic analysis of history which it is the preference to erase from public gaze. The charity aspect offers convenient camouflage.
Sure, ‘a bit of craic’ is preferable to asking why families do not know where their ‘disappeared relatives’ rest; why Óglaigh na hÉireann, whose youthful sacrifice is writ large on war grave memorials, forfeited their young lives to bring us to a resolution which could have been achieved by alternative means.
All of this is devoid of any evident self-reflection in the polemic that sanctioned this under the banner of a ‘just war’?
Is it best understood as the over-indulged smugness and politics of the Sinn Féin ‘old guard’; where de-commissioned accountability lies dormant until a disclosure such as that by former Minister of Justice in Dáil Éireann, Senator Michael McDowell regarding an amnesty agreed between Sinn Fein and the Irish Government, emerges to focus on the duplicitous and sordid character of our peace-making?
Add to this, secret talks and back channels, released prisoners, OTR letters and Queen’s pardons, choreographed receptions in New York and Washington, to say nothing of lack of investigations into Human Rights abuses, use of boy soldiers and communities living under fear; the reasons for the misplaced hubris, vanity and massaged ego become clear.
The consolation that arises is the speed with which the video was removed and the quiet revulsion shared across the community for the politics of out-dated war cries which offer an empty glass to families and individuals thirsty for a peaceful, reconciled and prosperous future.
“In this country we need to be extremely vigilant about the stories we choose to tell ourselves about ourselves.”
–Bryan Delaney, Playwright
Terry Wright is a former member of the UUP who, in addition to inter- and intra-community activities works independently to promote Civic Unionism.