Remarks on Adams by De Blasio reflect deeper problem with legacy

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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The outcry over the comments of the mayor of New York about Gerry Adams is both predictable and appropriate.

Bill de Blasio said that March 17 should be renamed ‘Gerry Adams Day,’ as he showered praise on the former Sinn Fein president.

Mr de Blasio said that Mr Adams “fought against” injustice, which “he did not tolerate”.


Mr Adams denies that he was ever in the IRA, let alone a leader of it, but he was undeniably a leading figure in the republican movement that gave unwavering support to the IRA.

The terrorist organisation, far from fighting injustice, was murderous and sectarian and never won majority support even in the minority nationalist population in Northern Ireland, which until the end of the 1990s voted in larger numbers for the SDLP than for Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein had even smaller support — derisory levels indeed — in the Republic that the IRA tried to get Northern Ireland to join, through violence and terror.

Mr de Blasio is either ignorant of that lack of support for violence, or he overlooks it. Either explanation is unflattering to him.

He is mayor of a city that, post the 9/11 attacks, has known as well as any place on earth how damaging and evil terrorism and fanaticism can be.

Deplorable though Mr de Blasio’s comments are, they reflect a much deeper problem for opponents of the IRA.

Republicans are making big strides in persuading people that the long IRA campaign of terrorism was a justified and noble response to British brutality.

They have no shortage of people in positions of influence who are happy to push them along in this rewriting of history.

It is telling that they made funding for legacy inquests a core demand for them to return to Stormont, and chilling that they were on the verge of getting it.