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The bitter stink of sulphur that comes with Adams's veiled threats to journalists

Sinn Fein are, according to the latest opinion polls, the most popular political party in the country - which opens up the very real possibility that Gerry Adams may one day be Taoiseach.

It's a scenario worth stepping back from and considering, in the light of its leader's comments over the weekend on the subject of press coverage of the Mairia Cahill rape scandal.

Writing in his blog on Friday, Adams made what has been perceived to be a none-too-veiled threat about what he would like to see happening to the newspaper - that, so inconveniently for him and his party, has been investigating the story - by musing on what Michael Collins allegedly did in similar circumstances over 100 years ago.

gunpoint

"And when the Irish Independent condemned his actions as 'murder most foul', what did Michael Collins do? He dispatched his men to the office of the Independent and held the editor at gunpoint as they dismantled the entire printing machinery and destroyed it."

Of course, this is not the first time that Adams has raged against the press, as nearly four years ago he complained about the Herald for talking about the McConville family's accusation that he's "dancing on their mother's grave" by running for the Dail in Co Louth.

It's all the more remarkable when you consider that, for 16 years, Gerry Adams himself was the victim of media censorship.

Introduced in 1976 in Ireland, and in 1988 in the UK, Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act forbade any publicity being given to Sinn Fein, so as to prevent them from getting their message across through the media.

For 18 years, Adams raged against the fact that his party were not allowed to even speak on TV or radio in the Republic, even when discussing relatively innocent issues, and while the UK were more lenient in their application of the rule, they employed the absurd conceit of dubbing any Sinn Fein's representatives' voices, so that their words were spoken by an actor.

Yet not only has Adams conveniently forgotten his past history - not for the first time, one may add - he now comes across as a poacher turned gamekeeper, seeking to complain about the media whenever something he feel uncomfortable about is discussed in public.

His extraordinary hypocrisy in this regard is matched only by his utter insensitivity, singling out the very news organisation that has lost two journalists - The Sunday Independent's Veronica Guerin and the Sunday World's Martin O'Hagan - at the hands of people who didn't like what they were writing.

Bright and articulate, it is easy to see what Adams's appeal is to the Irish electorate, and having remained outside the traditional centre of Irish politics for many years, his reputation is untarnished by the many mistakes made by the main parties in recent times.

But now that Sinn Fein are very much a player in Irish politics - probably forming part of the next government - and Adams is its undoubted leader, the question must be asked.

Do we really want this country to be led by someone who, every time he walks into a room, even to this day, gives off such a strong stench of sulphur?


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