I think many, like me, have come to expect the same old rhetoric from Sinn Fein when someone challenges their past and their inextricable link to the Provisional IRA.
This is again plainly evident from the Sinn Fein representatives peddling out their denials that have become typical in response to this week’s edition of Spotlight, which made serious allegations about Sinn Fein and goes right to the top of the leadership.
A former IRA member, who was deployed as a British agent, has made the claim that Gerry Adams sanctioned the murder of Denis Donaldson, himself a British agent, in 2006. This is an extremely serious allegation to be made against a long serving leader of one the parties in the Northern Ireland Executive.
Gerry Adams has of course responded to “specifically and categorically refute these unsubstantiated allegations.” The same Gerry Adams who wasn’t in the IRA? If the claim is true, what else did Gerry Adams sanction, if, as the British agent stated on Spotlight, “I know from my experience in the IRA that murders have to be approved by the leadership.”
If the allegations are untrue, then Gerry Adams should take legal action against Spotlight. If he does not, then he needs to explain why not. All we are hearing currently are the same old weak denials.
Innocent victims who currently place no trust in the republican movement will not have heard anything to change their minds. Because time and again, controversy and allegations are met with deflection and conspiracy rather than straight answers.
The problem is that what we have come to expect is for Sinn Fein to respond to controversy by trotting out rhetoric of the vital role they played in the peace process. In reality they entered politics when the IRA and Sinn Fein were so infiltrated with agents the United Kingdom had beaten them in the intelligence war.
We will hear about an agenda against Sinn Fein and republicans. When in reality, over 30 years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the IRA were intent on murdering innocent people.
In the aftermath of last night’s programme, Gerry Adams made a statement claiming: “Last night’s allegations are part of the British security agencies ongoing attempts to smear republicans and cover-up their own actions.”
This is the standard line from Sinn Fein when hit with awkward questions – blame the Brits. Gerry Adams should look in the mirror.
The coping mechanism developed by Sinn Fein for dealing with controversy has been to point the finger at others and throw out conspiracy theory. They need to realise they are as accountable and open to scrutiny as any other political party.
The cult of Gerry Adams is clearly very much a big thing for Sinn Fein. If any other political leader in the UK was facing the same allegations they would have at the very least stepped aside. Perhaps history will reflect that Sinn Fein’s priority was to preserve the myth that is Gerry Adams.
Tom Elliott is Ulster Unionist MP for Fermanagh South Tyrone