Ghosts continue to haunt Adams
The Sinn Fein leader is going nowhere ... and neither are the questions he still has to answer
THIS weekend the Wexford Opera House will stage a performance with a difference.
The Sopranos of Sinn Fein are coming to town to sing the praises of their boss-for-life Gerry Adams. The elegant venue will echo to the rafters with radical rhetoric and well-orchestrated displays of militant concern for the plain people of Ireland.
Sinn Fein is on a roll. Consistently the party is attracting promises of support from one in every five voters. After years of hard graft and long nights of rehearsing like democrats, the republican movement believes it is about to take centre stage.
For Gerry Adams, the opportunity to address the Ard Fheis live on RTE will be a moment to relish. There will be no interruptions. Nor any awkward questions about the past. The Opera House will be packed with devoted comrades who will provide acclaim on cue.
Adams will tell the nation that Sinn Fein is ready to save Ireland and lead us into the "promised land" of utopian virtue, foretold by Pearse and Connolly in 1916.
But there will be phantoms at this opera. The ghost of Seamus Quaid, the man who won an All-Ireland Hurling medal for Wexford in 1960, will be just one haunting presence in the wings. Detective Garda Quaid was murdered in Wexford in 1980.
Peter Rogers, his killer, is a republican hero. Rogers was one of the "magnificent seven", who escaped from a prison ship in Belfast Lough during internment and made Wexford his home during the 1970s.
Rogers drove a vegetable van around Wexford. It was a handy cover for operations.
One day in October 1980, Rogers was ferrying a load of explosives for use in the Provo war against the Irish people.
Seamus Quaid and his partner Donal Lyttleton rumbled him on his lethal bomb run. Rogers pulled a gun and mortally wounded the GAA legend in a shoot-out. Tragically Seamus Quaid's name was added to the list of murdered gardai, to be joined in later years by Jerry McCabe and, most recently, Adrian Donohoe.
Sentenced to death, Peter Rogers is a free man now thanks to Gerry Adams and the deal he brokered on behalf of the volunteers who killed for the cause.
There was a modest memorial plaque at Wexford's Opera House to Seamus Quaid, a patriot who defended Irish democracy from the terror gang that ran the IRA. It has been removed from the theatre at the request of the murdered Garda's family. The enduring pain of the Quaid family is a reminder of other stories Sinn Fein would like us all to forget about.
2013 was a year the party's President would like us all to forget. His brother Liam was sent to prison for 16 years for raping his own daughter Aine when she was a child.
Gerry Adams still has serious questions to answer about his knowledge of Liam's crimes and what he did or didn't do to protect his niece and others from his paedophile brother.
The spectre of Jean McConville came back with a vengeance too in recent months, after a RTE/BBC documentary The Disappeared, which reawakened interest in the events of 1972.
Two senior Republicans spoke from the grave and alleged that the Sinn Fein leader was implicated in the murder of the mother-of-10. The posthumous claims of Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price were supported by another IRA man in the programme.
Put on the spot, Adams repeated his tired denial that he was never even in the IRA, never mind its supremo.
Now there's speculation this Ard Fheis will be his Sinn Fein swansong.
Don't believe it for a second.
Adams may tactically withdraw from the frontline but as long as he breathes he has no intention of vacating his role as the strategist in chief.
His destiny, as he sees it, and that of the revolutionary movement he commands, is to deliver the holy grail of Irish unity.
It is now 50 years since Adams entered the fray. For 50 years he has been at the heart of everything the Republican movement did. When it mattered most he sided with the breakaway Provisionals and gave his support to a 30 year sectarian war of terror against his Protestant neighbours.
It was the duty of men like Seamus Quaid to oppose the settling of Ireland's problems with the gun. Garda Quaid died trying to uphold the will of the majority.
Ultimately Adams persuaded the IRA to call off their war when it was going nowhere. He convinced the IRA the war could be won through the ballot box.
The European and local elections this summer are likely to encourage Adams to believe that his day is coming. As he prepares his troops for the next crucial offensive, Gerry Adams is not about to retreat from the battle with victory in sight on the eve of the centenary of 1916.
Sinn Fein is not like other parties. It never was and never will be. It was always the political wing of a clandestine army - the army Adams once infamously told us hasn't "gone away you know".
It still hasn't. When the time comes for a new leader, it's the army that will call the shots. Remember that when the Opera House curtain rises.
Remember too that Seamus Quaid gave his life opposing that sinister force.