Adams is a discredited figure yet he does not suffer at the polls

Gerry Adams has been embroiled in perpetual controversies since he emerged on the political scene more than 30 years ago, which was itself more than a decade after he became a well known republican leader.

Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 10:31 am
Updated Wednesday, 4th May 2016, 1:34 pm
Morning View

The latest controversy relates to a tweet that used the taboo word “n****r”.

The Sinn Fein president is typically adept at getting out of these controversies, and no doubt he will get out of this one. He has, after all, only ever seen his vote rise and rise and rise, regardless of what allegation is levelled against him.

Mr Adams has used this latest row to claim that he was a founding member of the civil rights movement in Northern Ireland, and to draw parallels between the situation that nationalists in the Province faced and the situation faced by blacks in America in the past.

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This is a logical position for Sinn Fein to take, and one that they have pushed in the past. After all, if you are the political wing of a sectarian paramilitary movement that was for most of its existence treated as a pariah in the western world (for example by all European and north American governments of all political persuasions) it makes perfect sense to push that self-justifying analogy of shared oppression.

But even a former H Block prisoner Tim Brannigan, who as a black man who was involved in republicanism can speak with some authority on the comparison, says that 1960s Belfast cannot be fairly compared with slavery.

If republicans (or indeed nationalists such as Mary McAleese or the late Father Alec Reid, both of whom drew parallels with the treatment of Irish Catholics and Jews under the Nazis) stopped to think for a second, they would come to see that these comparisons are in fact grossly offensive to groups that genuinely suffered in the most grievous fashion.

Mr Adams, who denies he was ever in the IRA, is a discredited figure. If only that translated into a deserved poor performances at the polls for him and his acolytes.