Is Gerry Adams about to pay the price for his long association with Gaddafi?
There is a sense in which every Irish general election is a replay of the nation’s troubled past. If it’s not about the centuries-old British-Irish Protestant-Catholic sectarianism, it’s about the 90-year-old civil war of partition and the Anglo-Irish Treaty by which the Irish Free State was created. The resentment still festers; unforgiveness runs deep; the wounds are still open.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have dominated the politics of the Republic since its inception. They were born out of the civil war: Fianna Fáil, the present party of government, opposed partition; Fine Gael, which looks set to win today’s election, supported the treaty.
But Ireland’s accession to euro achieved something quite remarkable. The old tribal loyalties have melted away beneath the frustration, humiliation and anger caused by the country’s economic collapse. Those families which have religiously voted Fianna Fáil for the best part of a century are abandoning their political heritage, betrayed, they believe, by criminal bankers and corrupt politicians.
Of course, we know that little will change no matter who wins today’s general election: the Government of Ireland is the EU Commission; the economy of Ireland is controlled by the EU Central Bank. Fine Gael can tinker at the edges, but the macro stuff – the conditions of the bailout and crippling interest charges – is an inviolable obligation upon whichever party wins.
But the real story of the day is the extent to which Sinn Féin have not made the breakthrough they desired, or, indeed, expected, given the political and economic turmoil. Gerry Adams resigned his seat at Westminster to focus on the Dáil. Yes, he’ll probably win. But this election is looking to be a humiliation for Sinn Féin. If they can’t capitalise on the insecurity of a second potato famine, depression, soaring unemployment or the groundswell of resentment and Nationalist fervour in the midst of an EU plot to take over their beloved Éire, they will never be the all-Ireland party they profess to be.
But in the civil war leitmotif, the IRA has an awful lot to answer for. Their murderous campaign was waged indiscriminately, such that it alienated even their own natural supporters. Gerry Adams is inextricably linked to the IRA; he has so much blood on his hands that all great Neptune's Irish Sea could not wash it away. No; his hands will rather the multitudinous seas incarnadine, making the green one red.
As the people of Ireland go to the polls today, Gerry Adams’ problem is that he is inextricably linked to Colonel Gaddafi, whose murderous regime supplied the IRA with as much Semtex explosives and as many handguns, AK-47 assault rifles, heavy machine guns and RPG-7 rocket launchers as they required. Each day that Gaddafi is in the news is a reminder for the relatives of IRA victims that he and Gerry Adams were bedfellows. And not only bedfellows, but soul-mates and brothers in arms. While Gaddafi was blowing up planes over Lockerbie, Adams was busy blowing up Belfast and Enniskillen, not to mention Manchester, Canary Wharf and the entire British Cabinet in Brighton.
This is the most important Irish general election in decades. But it will change nothing. Irish sovereignty has been surrendered. The Fianna Fáil-Green coalition will fall and Fine Gael may win outright. And if they do not, they won’t be coming to Gerry Adams to form a coalition. No. He is the Republic’s very own Colonel Gaddafi; the former Commanding Officer of the IRA. As we watch the turmoil in Libya, and join our hearts with a people longing for freedom from oppression, terrorism and torture, let the people of Ireland never forget the proven links between the IRA and the Libyan dictator. Let them never forget the tons of weapons he has shipped to the Republic to maim and murder their compatriots. And let them remember today that Muammar Gaddafi and Gerry Adams are just different faces of same evil.