Time for Mr Adams to examine conscience

Time for Mr Adams to examine conscience
Irish Independent
Monday September 24 2012

Gerry Adams has never been subjected to the same kind of sustained scrutiny that Martin McGuinness, his former Provisional IRA “comrade in arms”, underwent during the presidential election campaign. He has tried to fend off questioning about his terrorist past by insisting that he never was a member of the IRA, much less its Belfast commander or its chief of staff.

But of late the questions have come thicker and sharper, the wriggle room has diminished and the criticisms have grown more insistent.

A critic of long standing is Dolours Price, who served a long term of imprisonment for her part in the bombing of the Old Bailey and several other locations in London in 1973. She says that Mr Adams authorised the bombings, and tells in fine detail how the crime was organised.

One of her earlier allegations was more dramatic — and more horrifying. Ms Price claimed that she drove the car which carried Jean McConville, mother of 10 children, to the place where she died. She said that Mr Adams ordered the murder.

Of course, Ms Price is not an impartial witness. She has always opposed the Northern peace process, in which Mr Adams played a central role. She doubtless wishes to give comfort and encouragement to the splinter groups which have broken away from the IRA and Sinn Fein and now carry on a terror campaign at a lower level. Any increase in support for the dissidents would be a threat to peace. The Sinn Fein leader should realise that, and reflect on his own position.

He has notably failed in his present role. At one level, he has no answer to fierce attacks like the one last week in which the Fianna Fail leader, Micheal Martin, accused him of having led an organisation which carried out “a campaign of murder”. At another, he shows a strange inability to grasp the nuances of the Republic’s politics.

But neither compares with the gruesome fact that the search for the remains of some of the “disappeared” still continues, constantly reminding us of 30 years of frightfulness.

The time is more than ripe for Mr Adams to examine his conscience and consider his position. He should not wait for an academic verdict or a resolution of the litigation over embargoed documents held in Boston College.

Telling the truth would presumably force his resignation from the leadership of Sinn Fein and from the Dail. It would encourage Sinn Fein to make its own confessions about the former tightness of its links with the IRA, and to become a genuinely constitutional party. If Ms Price thinks this would help the dissidents, she is mistaken. Truth and peace are allies.