I thought Gerry Adams was going to kiss the Prince of Wales he seemed so glad to see him.
Then he shook the Royal hand and didn’t appear to want to let go. When his Sinn Fein colleague and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness met the Queen two years ago on her visit to Ireland the Deputy First Minister also held on a tad long to that Royal hand. Maybe these hardened Republicans cannot resist meeting Royals after all.
Subsequently the Sinn Fein leader blathered on about peace and reconciliation and the hurt both sides have suffered.
In his immaculate suit the jacket of which was buttoned correctly at the top – amazing how many men get this wrong, but then Gerry mixes in the highest of circles these days - he spoke of regrets on both sides, forgiveness, the healing process and the future.
He also said it was ‘good’ that they had met, the two of them were of a common mind. So that’s alright then. We can all move on and instruct the police not to bother trying to resolve all those Troubles-related killings for inquest purposes since Deputy Chief Constable Drew Harris thinks the work is heavily police reliant and resources would be better spent on reconciliation.
The sooner the whole squalid era we know as The Troubles is forgotten about the better. At least that’s the impression we get. Certainly that appears to be the wish of Sinn Fein.
Yet the continuing anguish of the victims’ families is not something that can be so easily dismissed and not even an historic Royal tête-à-tête with vague promises of a better future from those who put us through the mill for over 30 years will dry the tears or ease the heartache of the real victims. Some have forgiven and gotten on with their lives, for others it’s harder to put the past behind them.
Sinn Fein say all the right things during big events such as the Royal visit this week. Yet every day they appear to create political mayhem at Stormont because they insist on having their way.
Take welfare reform which is part of the austerity measures dictated by Westminster. Sinn Fein approve of austerity measures in the south of Ireland but not in the north and their refusal to approve welfare reform here is costing us £2m a day and could collapse Stormont which is what many believe SF would be quite happy to see.
Living on benefits was never intended for the healthy and those who don’t want to work. They were designed to support the sick and disabled and those out of work through no fault of their own. But then welfare is the alternative lucrative lifestyle for many living in Sinn Fein’s electoral areas. It would be a big vote loser for them to support welfare reform.
I imagine SF now think they have a wider alliance in their opposition to welfare reform since the Scottish and Welsh Nationalists also oppose it.
Trouble is, as Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney reminded us this week, we should enjoy the good times we’re having now with low inflation, food and oil prices. It isn’t going to last.
Inflation is to rise starting this year he says.
The new, empowered Conservative Government do not intend to renege on welfare reform, not when the public expects so much from a Health Service which cannot cope with the funding it has.
Sinn Fein have had a good week appearing in virtually every national newspaper from here to Africa. They’re good at managing their own publicity and cementing relationships with important people like Prince Charles. Yet their political ideology is dead hand, their grasp of economics illiterate and few in the protestant community think they’re sincere.