is not often that the mask slips. But when it
does the grotesquery that lies beneath the Gerry
Adams public persona breaks through and gives
those who witness it an unpleasant glimpse of
what lurks behind the façade. Most accounts
of the Adams meanness comes through anecdotes
provided by those who were either on the receiving
end of it or were in the company and witnessed
someone else being exposed to it.
things often have a way of being maintained in-house.
The apparatchiks make it their business to keep
the rough edges off camera. Theirs is all about
public image. The anointed one must always be
depicted in soft focus. In the battle for perception
the public at large is normally only allowed to
see the polished Adams, in contradistinction to
the unbuffed version his detractors favour; the
one that was always a peace activist and never
a military leader, the kisser as opposed to the
killer, the champion of women's rights rather
than the architect of disappearing women.
apparatchiks do their job well but unfortunately
for them control freaks resent being controlled
and the extent to which they can be chaperoned
is not always measurable. When they look back
on the Big Lad's performance on BBC Spotlight
on Tuesday last they will almost certainly cringe.
Adams' own pompousness will probably prevent him
from seeing where it all went belly-up. A few
probing questions saw the veneer peel back and
viewers witnessed a metamorphosis from international
statesman to back street corner boy in the space
of seconds. It will hardly affect the great leader's
popularity amongst his Northern following but
if Sinn Fein's rivals in the upcoming election
in the Republic fail to switch on the Spotlight
performance at every opportunity in their campaigning
some of them they may be left to curse the darkness
that envelops them.
the opportunity to field questions from an audience
in a televised setting it should have been a dawdle
for the hero of the revolution. Yet curiously
he chose the cryptic route by forsaking diplomacy
for bullying. The audience hissed its disapproval.
The leader of the so-called party of the younger
generation condescendingly dismissed one probing
challenger as too young. It was a bizarre put
down from a man who at an age not much older than
his questioner directed a war in this city in
which many people died, needlessly now given what
Sinn Fein settled for; a sectarian carve up between
two ethnic dictators.
questioner was met with the put down that he was
a member of the Workers Party. It hardly mattered
what the man's political affiliation was, his
question on Sinn Fein's attitude to Private Finance
Initiative was a legitimate one and in the public
interest should have been treated with the seriousness
it merited. The problem as it frequently is was
the Adams horror of detail.
is becoming apparent the one presidential characteristic
President Adams has emulated from President Bush
is a weakness for detail. He tries to parry questions
that demand a detailed response with meaningless
platitudes, put downs and evasiveness, seeking
to draw his inquisitor onto the tedious ground
of the peace process which he masters through
liberal applications of lies, fudge and ambiguity.
Lure all difficult questions onto that bog and
watch them quickly sink in the mire. Noel Whelan
in the today's Irish Times caught it perfectly: