Five things we know after last night’s ‘Spotlight’ (BBC1 NI)


  1. The media are deeply concerned about whether Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA or a supporter of the IRA. This is an important matter to know about, because, um, because it’s something we all need to know. Jobs and the price of houses and partition are all very well in their place but that’s not what people (or the media) think of each morning they wake up. What they want to know is was Gerry in the IRA. Or rather, they want him to say he was in the IRA. It’s nothing personal, of course; just media business.
  2. Going to the police and arranging for your brother to be had up on a grave offence that will land him in jail is a simple matter. Anyone could do it and do it immediately, no shilly-shallying, no hanging about. Blood is thicker than water? Rubbish. It’s your civic duty to denounce your brother and to hesitate for a moment means you’re made of less firm moral fibre than the rest of us. You say you did denounce him? No good – you weren’t quick enough. Like the rest of us would have been.
  3. Because you record a 30-45-minute interview doesn’t mean more than twenty seconds of it will be used. The reason for this is that a programme has to have a direction, has to have a balance or harmony between its different parts. Besides, ninety-nine per cent of what you said was rubbish. And boring. Much better left on the cutting-room floor.
  4. Never use the word “disappear” as in “Your man was here five minutes ago but he seems to have disappeared”.  Gerry Adams made the mistake of using it last night and it was seen as next door to a confession that he’d been involved in the Disappeared and that he was a major obstacle to the recovery of the bodies of the Disappeared. You have been warned: mind your language.
  5. If you ask someone where they’ve parked their car and they reply that you’ve a nerve asking since you once stole a bicycle, then you’re the one at fault, not them. We know this because when Gerry Adams asks a question about finance or jobs in the Dail, Enda Kenny replies with harsh if unsubstantiated comments on what Gerry Adams did in Belfast forty years ago.  Which means Gerry is at fault, not the Taoiseach, and so he should resign as soon as possible…No, not the Taoiseach, Virginia, Gerry Adams. It doesn’t matter if he’s led Sinn Féin to dominant nationalist party in the north and tripled the  number of Sinn Féin  TDs in the south  last time out. He should resign  – he’s an obvious liability.

31 Responses to Five things we know after last night’s ‘Spotlight’ (BBC1 NI)

  1. Mick Fealty November 27, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    Re 2, Gerry told the police nothing that material to the offences. The ‘walk in the rain’ confession came only part of a written statement which was prepared in a room with Richard McAuley and checked over the phone with his solicitor during five hour adjournment in court proceedings.

    It does not matter to me personally whether Gerry says he was in the IRA or not, what’s damaging to him is he is a politician looking for power who has proven record of being unable to tell the truth about stuff. He is an unreliable witness.

    • Jude Collins November 27, 2013 at 4:03 pm #

      Failte romhat,Mick. I think if you’re going to reject all politicians that you believe have lied about something, you’re going to go through the supply of them pretty quickly.

      • giordanobuno November 27, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

        If i believed they lied about smoking a joint at university I wouldn’t care too much.
        If I believed they lied about their knowledge of child abuse I would be inclined to reject them. Would you not?

      • Mick Fealty November 27, 2013 at 9:25 pm #

        This was launched today, on the very day Liam was given his sentence:

        Are they sincere about this? I suspect ML is and other individuals are, but the cognitive dissonance must be blowing quite a few people’s circuits.

  2. Mary Lou November 27, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    Spot on Jude as usual!

  3. Cal November 27, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    The media do seem to think they’ve got Gerry on the ropes – they should know better.

    Of course he’s not a liability, he’s a strength to Sinn Fein, thus the push to drive him out in advance of some big elections coming up.

  4. martin browne November 27, 2013 at 6:39 pm #

    will they ever learn, 99% of people dont give a damn what adams got up to 40 years ago, they are struggling to pay bills and keeping their heads above water they dont where the next cuts are coming from. This is just another attempt by the main parties and the media to stop Sinn Feins raise, but it has not worked before and wont work this time either.

  5. Pat Mc Larnon November 27, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

    Adams should simply write everything down and insist it only be published after his death. Although I doubt that he will be afforded the same level of acceptance that others put their unquestioning faith in.

  6. stranger on the bus November 27, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Seems to me that a lot of people on Mr. Fealty’s site, especially the man himself, seem very concerned with somehow establishing that the IRA campaign was WRONG, unnecessary and unjustified, and that Mr. Gerry Adams is vile, evil, etc. I can certainly see how PUL people would wish to believe this.
    It seems that there is also a core of CNR people who also feel that it’s important that everyone should know that SF/IRA were/are the bad guys and take pains to highlight punishment beatings and kneecappings, as well as shootings and bombings and disappearances.(and failures to report brother’s crimes)
    I was born in Canada in 1969, so I can only imagine what I would do if I lived in a state which systematically discriminated against me I ways which I needn’t list here. I can imagine that if I lived in a place where I could be burned out of my house while the special constables stood by, you wouldn’t have to ask me twice if I believed in physical force
    To those who saw the futility of armed resistance, I doff my cap to your cool-headed far-sightedness. To those committed pacifists, I sincerely applaud your principles.
    To those who resisted a corrupt and merciless state, knowing that there would be no victory parade, rather more likely death or jail, I wish you to know that there are people in the world who recognise and appreciate your efforts and scoff at the label “terrorist” or “murder gang.”
    Long before I did much research into the land of my ancestors, I did a lot of reading on Vietnam. Now that was a messy, brutal war with an enormous body count.. The point seems lost on some, but Martin McGuiness was not speaking carelessly when he said at Oxford that things could have been a lot worse.
    Anyhow, I hope the peace process moves forward, and that unification comes by ballot, and that SF continues to resist those who feel they should bend their knees and hang their heads in shame. Some actions were shameful, yes. The campaign, as a whole, no.
    I’ll go out on a limb and say that those Catholics who feel the need to vilify the men of violence do so out of retroactive self-interest. If the war was justified, why did I not join?
    Therefore the war mustn’t be justified.

    • Neill November 28, 2013 at 7:24 am #

      Have you confused Northern Ireland with North Korea just wondering?

      • giordanobuno November 28, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

        Or perhaps the war was never justified and the vast majority of Catholics here recognised that, as evidenced by the low percentages Sinn Fein got in elections, consistently beaten by the SDLP, prior to the Good Friday Agreement.

        • stranger on the bus November 28, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

          Of course, giordanobuno, it is quite possible that the war was never justified. This is a matter of opinion. Many held/hold the opinion that it was justified. Many thought the war hopeless and a waste of lives. That’s a legitimate opinion. Many wanted the war to end, yet fully understood why some would fight it. These are likely those who voted SDLP pre-ceasefire, and magically voted SF post-ceasefire.
          When all these SF haters shout so loudly and continuously, one phrase comes to mind—“You protest too much.”

          • giordanobuno November 28, 2013 at 9:14 pm #

            There was nothing magical about it. People supported SF aims but not the violence the IRA used to try (and fail utterly) to achieve them.
            Without rehashing the whole mess again I suggest you ask yourself just what they achieved that 30 years of peaceful campaigning could not have.
            People vilify them,not from self interest but for what they did to our country and to their own fellow Irishmen and women,and indeed children.

        • stranger on the bus November 28, 2013 at 9:32 pm #

          Sorry Giordanobuno, their”fellow Irishmen” were the ones facilitating the house- burnings, beatings (and shooting) of peaceful protesters, interning of innocent men, etc. and so on.
          If your looking for a case of a handful of Republicans raised on bedtime stories with no community support, look to the 1950’s.
          If you wish to believe that peaceful protest would have accomplished something, you’re free to do so. I disagree. In my opinion, violence was justified.
          I’ll say again, the protestations against the IRA’s actions of 20 to 40 years ago ring disingenuous to my ear.
          I have no wish to re-hash it all, either.
          I sincerely hope that the people of NI can move on.

      • stranger on the bus November 28, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

        Excellent question, Neil.
        In fact, I believe that the North Korean state is far more despotic and tyrannical than the NI state ever was. It would be hyperbolic to say that it was.
        I also believe that when you compare the IRA to other guerilla armies, they were much less ruthless than the Viet Cong, for example.
        However, if anyone wishes to make out like the IRA were just a bunch of bloodthirsty madmen, feel free. You live in a much freer country that you used to.

        • giordanobuno November 29, 2013 at 7:59 am #

          That’s a good slogan for the IRA
          ‘less ruthless than the Viet Cong’!
          Not that it will be any comfort to the families of their 1600 victims, many of whom were civilians both Catholic and Protestant.
          And all for nothing.

          • stranger on the bus November 30, 2013 at 1:31 pm #


            Don’t want a long tit for tat, but how about “less sadistic than the Shankill Butchers.”
            It seems that all the people who vote SF don’t have as big an issue with the war as you do.
            Is it these people you really detest?

          • stranger on the bus November 30, 2013 at 4:00 pm #

            For the border poll, if it ever comes–“Northern Ireland…North Korea It Isn’t”

    • An Conghalach November 28, 2013 at 10:19 pm #

      Jude’s article was very good. Ask anybody a question on-screen that could potentially land them in gaol and they’re going to deny it. Common-sense. Answer a question about the sham that has been the Free State’s handling of the economic catastrophe with an aside about Jean McConville and you’re dragging the bottom of the barrell. But stranger on a bus’s closing comments are only clouded by the irony that SF has taken many such retros onto bus. Many of those kicked off Mao’s revolutionary bus were those who had suffered the hard part of the journey. Without mentioning names their reaction has often been knee-jerk. Gerry’s not the enemy. SF is not the enemy. The British State is still the enemy. Mao wasn’t wise and his bus analogy has done so much damage.

  7. Mick Fealty November 27, 2013 at 9:00 pm #

    Here’s a rough cut of what I thought were the best analytical bits from last night;

    • Jude Collins November 28, 2013 at 12:34 pm #

      Thanks Mick – that’s well-assembled. I cannot rid myself of the belief that there are a number of people who detest Gerry Adams and will use any available weapon to bludgeon him with, and through him Sinn Féin. For example, the in/not in IRA thing: if everybody knows (as they cheerfully say) that he was in the IRA, isn’t it a bit daft to go on and on about getting him to say he was in the IRA? It’s like something from Gilbert and Sullivan. As to the Disappeared, there does seem – I don’t know but there does seem to be a case for saying he was responsible at some level, greater or less, for Jean McConville’s death and disappearance. Whatever about her death (and the reasons for it), I’m convinced he has worked to find her body and the bodies of other people in similar circumstances. The fact that most have now been recovered testifies to that. So why not give him credit for that part, if not for his involvement (or otherwise) in her death? I’m just a bit more than dubious about the concern so many people have that Gerry Adams retire and be replaced. Have they the welfare of Sinn Féin at heart, that it exercises them so? Or do they, as I started by saying, simply detest Adams and SF and are glad of a chance to wallop him/ them (again). I’ll be frank, Mick – I’ve always viewed you as a decent and amiable guy who tries to hold the ring on Slugger as best possible – at least you have most times I’ve visited. But in terms of the Adams case, all that appears set aside and you’ve vaulted in there and bashed with the best of them. Which of course you’re entitled to but it does seem to me out of character. Anyway, thanks for the video and your thoughts – always a thought-provoking presence.

      • Mick Fealty November 29, 2013 at 2:30 am #

        Guilty as charged in relation to the Aine Adams case Jude.

        I’ll be frank with you, it just leaves me stone cold. There’s much to admire in the SF project, the determination, the understanding that no one thrives unless the party thrives, and the courage to take harsh/unpopular decisions in pursuit of its own long term purposes.

        But this issue crosses a line for me.

        I’m outwith making excuses for the utterly unforgivable. The intractable difficulties of the constitutional issue are no excuse either, nor the pretence that the party can compartmentalise its actions and insulate them from its policy base or party rules without some form of external reckoning.

        It’s not that it’s a case of do as I say, not as I do (even if it is). The truly faulty reasoning lies in the expectation that those of us who do not share a SF world view are obliged to share its own ‘soldierly’ understanding that its people can do no wrong.

        To be blunt we have had enough government by party in Ireland. And, ironically perhaps given the context of this conversation, I blame the fickle attention of Irish civil society for how politics was played out and for how the south ultimately crashed and burned.

  8. Jack November 27, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    A tipping point has been reached amongst all of the Sinn Féin haters including Mr Fealty ( no insightful blogs or analytical video clips from the Panorama documentary on the MRF from Mick).

    The tipping point occurs when all these spoofers and egotists begin to believe their own hype and drivel until of course the next election comes around and the electorate bring them back down to earth by no doubt endorsing both Adams and his political party.

  9. Jack P November 27, 2013 at 11:45 pm #

    Was Gerry in the IRA?
    What does it matter? Do they want to say “See!! I told ya!! ” Move along. Nothing to see here. Its nearly 19 years since the GFA and petty people are chewing on the same raggedy bone for all of those 19 years. Pay them no heed, it`s of no consequence.

  10. G D November 28, 2013 at 10:52 am #

    Inevitably, in times leading up to elections, Sinn Fein will face a barrage of abuse, lies and black propaganda from a range of sources including the media on both sides of the border, the British government and the many faces of extreme loyalism. This has been the case, north and south in every election Sinn Fein have taken an active part in since the 1920s. The same scenario was present in the 70s when the Official-IRA -aligned Republican Clubs took the political path. Even the moderate SDLP took a bashing from the same sources as did Bernadette Devlin. Non loyalist aligned parties were not equal citizens, end of story.

    However Sinn Fein went one step further than the other republican groups, they were victorious in elections and have been growing since the dark days of the hunger strikes in 1981. This is unacceptable to the media, the government and the extreme loyalists. Even more unacceptable now that Sinn Fein are on the brink of being more powerful, have achieved a sense of cross community progress in the north, however imperfect it may be and are seemingly walking us into Irish unity amongst other things.

    So what do the nay- sayers do? They bring out the propaganda machine, the Spotlight programs, the disappeared accusations, the perceived lying about family members, possible leadership of the IRA 40 years back. This time though its not just the media or the usual mouthpieces, now we have a few new elements in the mix. Today we have misguided dissidents with their armies of Joyriders, drug dealers and those who want to hit back at republicans for a Kneecapping/Beating that was handed out to them in the past. Next we have in the anti Sinn Fein coalition, former members of the Republican movement who are so sickened by jealousy at Sinn Fein’s continued support and success, that they get the itch to pop the bubble around them by any means necessary including, if their words were indeed true,informing. Any time anyone is seen spouting these anti-Sinn Fein views and propaganda tactics then the spotlight should not be on Gerry Adams but on those who have a mission to destroy him. The real question is who is paying them and how much?

  11. john kearns November 29, 2013 at 11:54 pm #

    who cares what the media say,or for that matter that prick of enda Kenny lier to the back bone. nothing but lies ever sence they took control of government,gerry adams is a man to look up to I believe sinn fein can and will deliver the promices they make. enda Kenny not fit to hand the tools to Gerry adams

  12. Rory Carr November 30, 2013 at 3:38 pm #

    Giordanobuno asks us to consider what, “…they [the Republican Movement] achieved that 30 years of peaceful campaigning could not have.”

    He fails to mention that, by the time internment was introduced in 1971 that very class of nationalist politicians who went on to make up the SDLP had had nigh on 50 years opportunity to bring about some alleviation of state wrongs but, in all that time had been concerned only to enjoy what they saw as their entitlement as nationalist representatives in Stormont and in some local government assemblies.

    These same people who now, quite shamelessly, claim to have been the leaders of the Civil Rights Movement (that was in fact initiated by Republicans) were actually so terrified of mass participation in the civil rights agitation that they buried their differences to form the SDLP hoping to head off NICRA at the pass and continue spouting the same old empty rhetoric.

    But we saw what was the response to peaceful protest – attempted pogroms by the RUC and ‘B’ Specials fronting loyalist mobs; the burning of whole Catholic streets; the beating to death of a peaceful man in his own home’ the Bogside under siege by forces of the state; peaceful marchers bludgeoned and bloodied by Specials in mufti while the RUC stood by; and then the raking of residential flats by RUC armoured cars equipped with heavy machine guns so powerful as to penetrate walls and blow off a child’s head as he knelt to his night prayers.

    That young men and women thought to counter this with armed resistance and to reject the pathetic self interest of nationalist politicians is hardly surprising. Nor is it surprising to hear them condemned by those who had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo afraid that the dynamics of resistance might educate the nationalist masses in such a way that their leadership could no longer be taken for granted.

    Gerry Adams’s wise refusal to criminalise himself by admitting to membership of the IRA is well understood (Martin McGuinness, having already been convicted of IRA membership, does not suffer from the same restraint although his dates have been called into question). But we should also recall that, during the Good Friday negotiations, the media always alluded to McGuinness as the military leader and Adams as the politico, President of Sinn Féin. The Brits required the confection that Adams was solely a political figure in order to keep up some semblance of the pretence that they “did not negotiate with terrorists”. The reality of course was that it was pointless negotiating with the UUP and the SDLP, if there was to be a way forward only the “terrorists” could deliver and it was Adams above all who was capable of delivering the Republican Movement, including IRA arms decommissioning, without a catastrophic split (dissidents notwithstanding).

    Giordanobuno is correct of course that, “…in elections,[Sinn Féin were] consistently beaten by the SDLP, prior to the Good Friday Agreement.” The nationalist community voted for the ineffectual SDLP when it didn’t much matter but when it did, when the chips were down they knew who to thank for their deliverance and who to trust in future.

  13. giordanobuno November 30, 2013 at 4:39 pm #

    stranger on the train
    One last reply and I will leave it as we are going round in circles.
    There is no danger of tit for tat from me since I hold the Shankill butchers in equal contempt to the IRA, along with all those who thought they could bomb and kill others to get their own way.
    As for those who vote SF, as they are voting for a party that now supports peaceful methods I do not detest them at all. How they feel about what happened before the GFA, well you don’t know and nor do I.
    Please do not put these violent men on a pedestal. They did no good for Ireland or anyone else.

    • giordanobuno November 30, 2013 at 5:41 pm #

      Stranger on the bus, not train. Too much Hitchcock. My apologies.

    • stranger on the bus November 30, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      Last word from me. Not putting them on a pedestal. They made difficult choices in a difficult situation. Many died. Many served long sentences. The U.K. government saw fit to treaty with them. There was plenty of cruelty and injustice from both sides and all kinds of “what ifs” and “who started its.”
      As I said at the start, I can’t say that I would’ve acted differently if I was born in 1949 in Belfast. Therefore I don’t judge them as harshly as yourself.
      Hope you don’t break an ankle if you ever become dislodged from your high horse.