Provisional Liability


From top: Gerry Adams; Derek Mooney

Much to his own delight Gerry Adams was once again grabbing the headlines last week. Ignore the fact that they were not the headlines that other political leaders would relish – for Adams, a headline is a headline, even if it contains more than a whiff of cordite.

It came on foot of the furore following Adams telling his local LMFM local radio station that jailing the provo murderers of the innocent County Louth farmer, Tom Oliver, would be “totally and absolutely counterproductive”.

It was an outrageous statement to make, only made worse by Adams added assertion that the 1991 crime was “politically motivated killing”. It was not.

It is well accepted and acknowledged that Mr Oliver was brutally tortured and then shot as a warning to other families in the Cooley peninsula not to talk to the authorities and to allow the provos to operate there unhindered.

It was brutal intimidation, plain and simple.

The idea that those who intimidated and threatening innocent men and women should now deserve an amnesty is affront to the principles of basic justice and a denial of the specific provisions made for this situation when the Good Friday agreement was negotiated.

The Northern Ireland (Sentences) Act 1998 provides that anyone later convicted of a scheduled offence committed before April 1998 will serve a maximum of two years in prison, after which they would be released to serve out the remainder of their sentence “under licence”.

There is no case for amnesty.

Two years is a painfully short penalty for such a callous act, but it does offer some justice and some truth to those left behind. It is what we all agreed in the context of bringing peace and it is the minimum that we can expect.

Tom Oliver is just one of the provos’ many innocent victims whose killers have not yet been brought to justice. Though thePprovos did, in 2002, apologise to the innocent victims of its campaign of violence, Adams words last week make that apology ring hollow.

The provos were not alone in their cruelty and inhumanity. There are as many victims of loyalist terrorism too – in some cases facilitated by some in the British security forces.

The whataboutery of apologists on either side gets us no-where in confronting our shared past. Neither should it prevent us from calling out the provos for their crimes.

There is an onus on us to do this; as the provos asserted that they committed their atrocities in our name and in pursuit of a legitimate aim to which most of us still aspire.

They purloined our history and abused its iconography to justify their campaign of violence, all the while ignoring the line in the 1916 Proclamation urging that no one dishonour the cause of freedom “…by cowardice, inhumanity, or rapine.”

They only succeeded in driving the divisions deeper and setting back the aim of Irish Unity. They were the enemies of unity, not its champion.

We have a responsibility to not just disavow these acts, but to pursue the perpetrators just as the British government has a duty to stop hiding behind the excuse of national security and cooperate more fully and openly with the Irish government in pursuing loyalist killers, including those behind the Dublin and Monaghan bombings by releasing all the files and papers pertaining to the case.

I mention the Dublin and Monaghan bombings here as they were erroneously cited by Fine Gael’s Junior Minister, Patrick O’Donovan, last Monday.

So over enthused and excited was he to score political points off Fianna Fáil, by linking them to Sinn Féin, that he omitted to check his facts, or possibly double check the talking points sent to him.

There are sufficient grounds for criticising the provos and its apologists, that you do not need to make up your own and then double down on them when you are caught out.

He should try reading some of the Parliamentary Replies issued to TDs from across the Dáil, over the past few years, on the Dublin Monaghan bombings to see that his government fully supports the all-party Dáil motions of July 2008 and May 2011 urging the British Government to allow access by an independent international judicial figure to all original documents in their possession relating to the Dublin-Monaghan bombings.

O’Donovan will also see, if he reads the May 2016 reply from the then Fine Gael Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan, to the Fianna Fáil Party Chairperson, Deputy Brendan Smith, that his government is unhappy with the continued foot dragging by the British government, saying (diplomatically):

“I am disappointed to report that despite our urging, the British Government is still considering how to respond to the Dáil motions.”

In so very many ways the arguments put forward by Adams in protecting from justice the killers of Tom Oliver, Columba McVeigh, Seamus Quaid, Jean McConville, Michael Clerkin and so many others right up to the 2007 murder of Paul Quinn, mirror the arguments that the British security establishment proffers when seeking to cover up its own murky and dark past.

Neither are they a thousand miles away from the infamous ruling by Lord Denning that it ‘is such an appalling vista that every sensible person in the land would say, “It cannot be right these actions should go any further.”‘

Contrary to Adams view, truth and justice cannot be totally and absolutely counterproductive. This an establishment/elitist argument – something you would not expect to hear from the leader of a party that claims to stand up for equality and the rights of the little guy?

But that presumes that Sinn Féin is yet a political party. It is still more of a cult than a party: devoted to the double speak and double standards of Adams. Where some leaders drink deep from the well of compassion and decency: Gerry Adams merely gargles.

Derek Mooney is a communications and public affairs consultant. He previously served as a Ministerial Adviser to the Fianna Fáil-led government 2004 – 2010. Follow Derek on Twitter: @dsmooney

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26 thoughts on “Provisional Liability

  1. Rob_G

    Good article.

    People should never forget when squeaky-clean, cordite-free candidates like Mary Lou and Eoin Ó Broin knock to their door that these people willingly associate themselves with people like Gerry Adams who can speak so blithely about the murder of an innocent man.

    1. Boj

      When Gerry goes away (which father time will eventually sort out), will SF get off the hook then? I’m just curious, is it HIM everyone hates or the whole party? Are they ALL in the IRA? No particular fan of any party, just a question.

      1. Rob_G

        Not just Gerry, but he is the most high-profile representative of the era when SF was the political wing of the PIRA, in the Republic anyway.

        In the North, the SF hieracrchy aren’t so concerned about covering up the whiff of cordite. In fact, up there it seems to be an electoral asset – SF even still use convicted child murderers on the canvass.

        So, while people like Gerry Adams, Thomas McMahon, and Martin Ferris are still associated with, and embraced by, Sinn Féin, I would not dream of voting for the party.

      2. Clampers Outside!

        Mary Lou and Pearse Doherty denied the existence of kangaroo courts under SF and the release of padeos and other sex offenders thru those ‘courts’.
        They are not to be trusted either. No more than you would a Bishop on the crimes of the Vatican.

  2. Catherinecostelloe

    Didn’t members of An garda in Dundalk tip off IRA about two visiting police superintendents from the north of Ireland ? They were ambushed and gunned down on the way back.
    And Charlie Haughey FF and Neil Blamey FF were caught with a shipment of arms for the IRA? Laying all the blame on Gerry Adams is nothing more than dirty politics.

      1. Catherinecostelloe

        Gerry Adams doesn’t make mealy mouthed excuses for murdering garda. Didn’t killers of Gerry Mc Cabe fly off into sunset to South America never to be named and shamed, or circulated as ” wanted” . What did FF do about it? Naff all., that’s what., usual bluster, faux outrage and wait for next ( unresolved) scandal. All mouth and trousers , that’s FF.

        1. Rob_G

          Louise O’Reilly did, in a radio interview just last year.

          ‘Didn’t killers of Gerry Mc Cabe fly off into sunset to South America never to be named and shamed, or circulated as ” wanted”’

          – no, they were convicted and sent to prison. And what do you know, sitting SInn Féin TD and all-round scumbag Martin Ferris came down in a van to pick them up from prison on their release.

          And it’s ‘Jerry McCabe’. The man made the ultimate sacrifice to defend this country from IRA criminals; do please try to get his name right.

          1. Catherinecostelloe

            There are two suspects involved in this horrendous shooting still on the run. Several more served soft jail sentences but I find it abhorrent that the escaped killers are scot free. Martin Ferris was/ is an absolute disgrace to condone this murder and associate with cowardly killers. How the hell he gets votes is beyond me. Low standards in politicians who are never shown the door is a recurring problem here in the Republic.

  3. realPolithicks

    There’s a simple solution for all the whiners on here, vote for someone else…there you are now…problem solved.

      1. realPolithicks

        I wouldn’t have taken you as a SF supporter, but then you’re such an oddball anything is possible.

  4. brownbull

    It’s widely believed that Gerry set up the PIRA nutting squad, led by MI5 double agent Stakeknife, that undertook this killing. The nutting squad is believed to have executed many people inside and outside the PIRA, claiming them to be informers afterwards in an Phoblacht, when they were murdered to provide cover for double agents like Stakeknife himself. In many cases they were tortured and executed by Stakeknife himself. The nutting squad was also used by the leadership of the organisation to deal with those who stepped out of line. Gerry does not want this killing investigated because the trail leads to the nutting squad and eventually to him, but it also leads to Stakeknife and to MI5. One would think he would want the role of MI5 in this exposed, why not?

  5. bisted

    …I’ve heard that the shinners attribute their inexorable rise in popularity directly to heeding advice from Derek and comments on Broadsheet…

  6. RuilleBuille

    I hadn’t realised until now that it was only the IRA killed people. I must have been misled to believe others killed as well.

    1. Rob_G

      If some UVF lads were standing for election in this jurisdiction, I imagine they would face the same line of questioning.

      – top whataboutery, all the same.

      1. Kolmo

        Ah the aul “whataboutery” shutdown…
        There was a war, there were no military winners, awful things were done on all sides, just like in all other wars through history, negotiations started and the war ended, 25 years ago, most have moved on, as difficult as that must be. This faux outrage crops up anytime a distraction is required to obfuscate a current cluster fupp of a situation – they don’t give a single toss about any of the unfortunate victims, a prison officers son is wheeled out on occasion and his grief is grotesquely manipulated by those who need the heat taken off them….the same scrotal have portraits of the great Mícheál Collins hanging in their chambers, a lad they would have had hung if he was their contemporary. They are afraid to death that electorate might have the temerity to vote SF into power.

        1. Rob_G

          There was no ‘war’ – the IRA had no legitimacy.

          Which particular war aim was being pursued when the IRA robbed a post office (in Ireland) and murdered an (Irish) member of An Garda Síochána – what noble warriors…

          ‘most have moved on…’ – I would say its difficult to move on when people like Gerry Adams are still in power, people who are unable to say a simple statement like ‘killing those children in Warrington was wrong, blowing up those young people in that pub in Birmingham was wrong, the people who did those acts are amoral psychopaths’.

          “They are afraid to death that electorate might have the temerity to vote SF into power.” – it’s certainly is an apalling vista. I wouldn’t say ‘afraid to death’, though – I’d say Paul Quinn was afraid to death when he being beaten with iron bars in that cowshed.

  7. :-Joe

    I’m no supporter of SF or any other establishment for the elite party coalition of FF/FG + the recently rebranded Neo-Labour movement but… Ya gotta love it when a wannabe Edward Bernays ex-Fine To Fail party spin doctor is harping on about “Jharry”.and all his short-comings… Just give me a bottle of whiskey and the revolver…

    How about a few lines of propaganda on your auld buddies you worked with from the biggest swindle percieved as a suicidal economic crash of governance in Irish political history?…

    I’m sure you have plenty of pearls of wise revelations that the citizens of this country would benefit from hearing, understanding and knowing alll about but would you dare have the courage to speak about it publicly?… Of course not.

    I hope I’m wrong but it’s never to late, so why not change course and do your bit for the historical perspective of the future generations?… Ok, I’ll just continue to roll my eyes right round the back of my head whenever I see this already all-too regular contribution and reminder of how this country is really eating itself alive and bite my own lip instead …

    Anyway, I respect free speech and I admire BS for giving people a voice to contributers and commentators alike without censoring opinions(too much. -I’m still waiting to hear why the words “boo boo” or “twinkle pants” are prohibited in he 21st century age of relentless social media diarrhoea?. – I look forward to your poopily poo poo pee pee.)

    The same cannot be said of most of the media and political parasites manipulating and reshaping the narrative to suit an alterior motive or agenda for self-interest over the journalistic responsibility to others less well informed like myself most of the time… but the PR world is not about responsibility it’s about branding and re-branding under the guise of “helping individual parties communicate” and “add value through shared interactions” and so on..

    Anyway, if you’re still a virgin, why not vote for a local independent candidates who have a lot less to gain and actually have to do some hard work to get something done just to stay in the game or they’ll face the shaft in short-shrift the next time an election. is… perfectly orchistrated to maximum effect for the benefit of the established centres of power?…

    Either way, Don’t, Don’t, Don’t… Don’t believe the poo !?!…… Ye- ehh…



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