Gerry Adams is a man that’s constantly in the news. As the leader of a political party, that’s to be expected. Not many leaders, however, are often in the news over links to murder and rape cases.
In just over a year, Adams has been arrested in connection with the murder of Jean McConville, his brother was jailed for child abuse, and more recently, he has been at the centre of rape allegations being made by Maíria Cahill. No charges have ever been brought against Adams, but you would imagine even having links to these crimes would put any politician out of a job.
In fact, precisely the opposite is happening. The latest opinion polls, conducted by Millward Brown for The Sunday Independent, show that, for the first time ever, Sinn Féin are the most popular party in the country. Prior to the poll’s release, even Sinn Féin themselves had dismissed it, expecting the latest allegations made by Maíria Cahill to have had an effect on their standings.
Granted, Adams isn’t the most popular leader in the country, coming in behind Mícheal Martin and Joan Burton, but he is leader of the most popular party nonetheless. Should Sinn Féin win the upcoming election then Gerry Adams would be Taoiseach.
It’s fair to say that Irish politicians haven’t set the bar very high over the last few years and it’s easy to see why public opinion of Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour has fallen. It’s clear to see that the train of thought is that Sinn Féin haven’t caused a recession or imposed water charges, so they must be the best option.
After the merciless destruction of the Celtic Tiger, which happened under the Fianna Fáil government, getting the country back on track was never going to be an easy job, and some might say that the coalition had no hope of doing so without stepping on a few toes. However, following tax hikes in pretty much every area of Irish life, the way in which the introduction of water charges was handled seems to have been the end of the line for Enda Kenny and his government.
In a poll of 991 people, 40 per cent reckoned that handling the economy well was the most important thing for a government, whereas 15 per cent put ethical behaviour to the forefront. Thirty five per cent of people reckon both are equally important while nine per cent answered that neither were important or that they didn’t know.
As a politician, Gerry Adams has been a thorn in the side of the government for years. He has often stood up for the rights of the average Irish citizen, as have the Sinn Féin party.
Although, his life before politics has often come into question. Throughout the years, he has been adamant that he was never a member of the IRA, despite numerous allegations from former members that he was part of the hierarchy during the Troubles.
In a TV3 documentary last year entitled “Sinn Féin: Who Are They?”, Adams maintained his stance on his membership saying: “I’m very, very clear about my denial of IRA membership but I don’t disassociate myself from the IRA”.
Despite never being charged in connection with any crimes to do with the IRA, the amount of allegations that have come forward over the years are enough to put a question mark over some of the politician’s past. The recent claims by Maíria Cahill that Adams knew about the rape and subsequent IRA investigation are just the latest in a long list of accusations over the years.
The Irish government has let its people down over the last number of years and it’s gotten to a stage where, according to the poll, people are beginning to lose value in the ethical behaviour of politicians in favour of getting the country out of debt.
Given the controversies that have plagued Gerry Adams during his political life, it’s hard to imagine him as a viable leader for the country. During the Troubles, the IRA turned into one of the most ferocious terrorist organisations that the world has ever seen. Even though he adamantly denies his membership, a lot of former IRA members claim to have received orders from him to carry out terrorist activities. Is he really the man that should be the face of Ireland?
Eoin Lúc Ó’Ceallaigh