herald

Monday 24 September 2018

Ghost of Jean McConville hasn't gone away you know, Mr Adams

IT WON'T go away you know. The ghost of Jean McConville that is. It continues to haunt Gerry Adams.

If the Sinn Fein leader thought that, a week on, he could ride out the storm of controversy launched by the documentary The Disappeared he's been proved sorely wrong.

On Monday, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore called on Adams to tell all in relation to what he knows about the Disappeared.

A day earlier, Alan Shatter dismissed Mr Adams' approach to the issue of the McConville disappearance as "difficult to accept".

This is a serious charge for a Justice Minister to lay against any TD, let alone the leader of a political party.

It followed a call from TD Willie O'Dea to debate the McConville case and those of the other Disappeared in the Dail.

The details of Darragh McIntyre's harrowing documentary are well known.

Suffice to say it made for distressing viewing, particularly to those of us who had lived through those dark days in the north of Ireland.

SENSATIONAL

It was balanced and restrained and that's what made the claims of the participants all the more compelling.

In the course of the documentary Gerry Adams's old friend Brendan Hughes gave sensational testimony implicating the Sinn Fein leader in McConville's murder.

Hughes stated: "There was only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed.

"That man is now the head of Sinn Fein."

This simple, clear statement will not go away.

It has not been properly addressed by Adams, despite his repeated denials of involvement.

Mr Shatter is correct when he states that the Sinn Fein leader has an "enormous credibility gap" over the way he's handled the issue of this murder.

He has. He's also been guilty of evasion, denial and downright obfuscation.

His response last week was to call for an independent international-based process to deal with the past. Beat that for barefaced effrontery!

No doubt the Adams masterplan is to stage a lap of glory over the next 18 months, leading his party into the 1916 commemorations before stepping off the stage at the general election to be held shortly afterwards.

But the McConville murder has thrown a spanner in the works.

The heroic legacy Adams planned – placing himself in the pantheon of Great Irish Republicans – has been sullied.

He is now a major liability to his party.

The spectre of Jean McConville has reached from beyond the grave to destroy his plans.

Have any in his party the backbone to take him on? Don't bet on it.

But rest assured that many younger colleagues must be seething at the way their dinosaur president has played this one.

Finally, remember this is all just politics.

Seventeen people were dispatched into eternity without bell, book or candle, on the orders of kangaroo courts. The bodies of seven have not been found.

Rest assured they'll join Jean McConville in haunting Mr Adams and his sympathisers ahead of their glorious 1916 centenary.

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