This blog first appeared as a column in The Andersonstown News
Many people, mainly unionist but also some nationalists, beg to differ when Gerry Adams says he wasn’t in the IRA. But I don’t know of anyone who would say that Gerry Adams has distanced himself from the IRA. Au contraire: he has always explicitly aligned himself with the IRA.
But that’s not enough to save him from the outrage detectors. A number of people, virtually all unionist figures, have an inbuilt outrage detector. It is a sensitive instrument, this, which begins to hum and vibrate at the slightest whiff of outrage material. A fairly typical possessor of this cutting-edge instrument is found in the innards of Kenny Donaldson.
Kenny acts as spokesman for a group called ‘Innocent Victims United’, and he appears to spend much of his waking hours sniffing out any word or deed (or thought, who knows) by republicans which he thinks he can build into an outrageous slur on victims of the conflict (Protestant/Unionist victims, that is).
His latest foray has been aimed at Gerry Adams, because, in a comedy video to raise funds for Foyle Search and Rescue, Gerry is shown singing in an impressive bass “ “Tis the season to be jolly, tiocfaidh ar lá, lá, lá, lá”.
Donaldson’t outrage detector goes off the scale: the video, he declares, attempt to “downplay terrorism and the evils to which the Provisional Republican Movement were responsible for.” (Yes, Virginia, the grammar is a bit off but we get what he’s driving at.) What’s more, Kenny says, “the rewrite campaign is in action at all levels of our society and people need to waken up and understand it for what it is”.
Two points there, I think. One is that indeed yes, Gerry’s “tiocfaidh ar lá, lá, lá, lá” in a comedy sketch for a charity will outrage anyone who is outrage prone. As David told Senator George Mitchell at the start of the peace talks: ‘Senator, there’s one thing you must know about us in order to be any use in this process. We in Northern Ireland would drive one hundred miles out of our way to receive an insult.”
Kenny’s second point is that this is Gerry Adams rewriting history. EH? By singing “tiocfaidh ar lá, lá, lá, lá”?? Oh come on, Kenny. You can do better than that. You can’t? Oh. OK.
If it’s hurt and outrage you’re after, Kenny, maybe swivel your gaze eastwards toward what I’m sure you consider the capital of your country – London. In that city you will find a man who, as one Guardian commentator put it, lies for a living and has a secondary job as Prime Minister.
While the rest of the UK was being urged by this blond politician to follow the rules and avoid any unnecessary gatherings, and while hundreds of people experienced the agony of knowing a loved one was dying but they couldn’t be present, the leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party was hosting up to seven different shindigs in Downing Street and engaged in some magical accountancy with the source of the money to refurbish his Downing Street apartment – around £150,000, it seems.
But Kenny averts his gaze and attention from any such activity. He’s too busy being outraged by a former Sinn Féin leader on behalf of Innocent Victims United. And warning good people everywhere, not that Santa would be checking who’s been naughty and who’s been nice, but that the unionist people were at risk of having their history – and maybe heritage – rewritten before their very eyes. “Wake up, people!” Kenny says. “We are in mortal danger!”
Now, what larger-than-life former DUP leader does that remind me of. Eh no, Virginia. I will not being giving prizes for the correct answer.