Ruth Dudley Edwards: The future isn’t so bright, Gerry Adams - you seem to have lost your people

Gerry Adams has been affronted by the announcement from the UK government of the setting up of the ‘Expert Advisory Panel for Public History of British Policy during the Northern Ireland Conflict’.
‘We will write our own history. And our own future’, Gerry Adams posted on social media. This prompted a wealth of replies from other users on X‘We will write our own history. And our own future’, Gerry Adams posted on social media. This prompted a wealth of replies from other users on X
‘We will write our own history. And our own future’, Gerry Adams posted on social media. This prompted a wealth of replies from other users on X

He made this clear on X (formerly known as Twitter), where he describes himself as “Optimistic and Hopeful Activist. Léargas blog and Léargas podcast. The future is bright”.

This is not quite as modest as it sounds: “Léargas means “Insight”, which is quite a claim to make.

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Before writing of his reaction and how it was greeted, I should put his blog in context.

It’s same old same old mixture of long-dead rebels, the “formidable wee women” who supported them, updates on where the Moore St Preservation Trust has got with their proposed 1916 Battlefield site and complaints about southern politicians failing to make unification their priority.

Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin “are not advocates for a new constitutional future. They are deeply wedded to their own political dispensation. They are not SNQ. Sound on the National Question. Neither is Simon Harris.”

More exotic is Gaza, where the answer is, of course, dialogue with Hamas along the lines of the Irish peace process. On October 7, as the world was taking in the horrors of murder, rape, torture and kidnapping inflicted on young people at a music festival, Mr Adams explained there must be “an international intervention to establish a proper negotiations process, based upon international law and the UN Charter. Anything else is unacceptable. Dialogue, dialogue.”

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In fairness to Mr Adams, his devotion to this crowd of appalling sectarian terrorists seems to be genuine. But then historically he has had an affinity with people like that from the Middle East to South America.

“We have a lot more to do to win our freedom”, he explains, “but win it we will. When we do we will continue to keep faith with the struggle in Palestine because we know that Ireland’s freedom will be incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

Having checked out some of his recent posts I decided to rename his blog ‘Leadránach’, which means ‘Dreary’. But things livened up with announcement of the Advisory Panel - a group of historians asked to provide “independent advice and guidance to the historians writing the public history of British policy during the conflict in Northern Ireland”.

Its main job is “to ensure the accuracy, objectivity, and comprehensiveness of the public history through primary function.”

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The people asked to give their time free are at the top of their profession: they include serving and retired professors of e.g. conflict studies, history and politics from Queen’s, the University of Ulster, Cambridge, Oxford, King’s College London and University College Dublin.

Mr Adams was unimpressed. “No thanks. We will write our own history. And our own future!” to which the war historian and journalist Ronan McGreevy replied: “No you won’t Gerry”.

“You certainly do,” said another: “It can be found on the book shelf titled ‘Fiction’.”

Many others weighed in similarly. “If anyone would want to rewrite history Gerry, it would be you.”

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“Because you won’t get to add your fairy tales to it…you are raging.”

“Well you have tried to rewrite your own history. How will you write of Jean McConville and her orphaned children?”

“When you write your own history will it include the unsavoury unclaimed atrocities like Kingsmill etc and the history of child abuse in your family. Or will it be just the big bad prods and Brits as per usual?”

Others weighed in with reminders of sectarian murders including a photo of a powerful Shankill Road mural with terrible images of death and destruction called “30 years of indiscriminate slaughter by so-called non-sectarian Irish freedom fighters”.

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The anti-immigrant lobby weighed in with denunciations of what some are calling the new plantation of Ireland.

“Gerry did all that fighting just to give the county away to other invaders. What was the point?”

“You’re a relic of the past, rewrite your own history all you like. It doesn’t change reality. NI is better off without your generation involved in decision making.”

The reaction was more than 90% angry. The future isn’t so bright, Mr Adams. You and your party seem to have lost your people.