That Adams and Charles handshakeOther factors aside, Irish journalism’s decades-long anti-Sinn Féin bias is chopped at the knees by the very establishment over whom they have fawned.
Taking my journalist’s hat off for a moment, as a socialist and someone who has an acknowledged record in exposing the British state’s secret and illegal campaign of violence in Ireland, I would personally be opposed to the idea of any Irish socialist shaking the hand of the titular commander of the Parachute Regiment – Prince Charles of England who visits Ireland today. This is particularly the case because of my close connections to Ballymurphy in West Belfast and Derry city – both of which suffered grievously at the hands of a clearly orchestrated infliction of mass murder, perpetrated by that same Parachute Regiment within the space of six months of each other. Here I am, of course, referring to the Ballymurphy and Bloody Sunday massacres of innocent civilians in 1971 and early 1972 respectively.
But there is a caveat to my objection. If it transpires that this clearly prior-agreed handshake is more than just a symbolic act of reconciliation and especially if it leads to an acknowledgement of what the Para assaults actually were – massacres - and the establishment of a fully independent inquiry, then I think a handshake will have been worthwhile. I doubt, however, that the English administration will allow the chief of the Paras to go that far. We will see.
There is, however, one other just as important aspect to this handshake, which is worth highlighting – it completely collapses and exposes a remarkable campaign over the last few years to declare Sinn Féin in general and Gerry Adams in particular as “toxic”. The evidence is there for all to see that not only (as you would expect) Independent Newspapers and its columnists have raged against Sinn Féin, but also the Irish Commentariat as a whole, alleged Irish liberals, holier than thou “revolutionary” Irish republicans, backwoods Christian fundamentalists and veteran Sinn Féin baiters in the North have all sung from the same anti-Adams hymn sheet.
Put simply, the Queen of England’s signal to Sinn Féin and the IRA in her 2012 visit to Ireland (including the remarkable and inclusive homage to Ireland’s fallen at the Garden of Remembrance), and now her son’s acknowledgement of the IRA leadership that blew up his uncle and other relatives, is – “You were a worthy adversary with a just cause that involved centuries long conflict. That conflict is now over. Shake on it.”
Indeed, if reports emanating from London today are accurate, as they seem to be, the English monarch was pro-active in insisting that her son Charles should parley with Gerry Adams today, and it was the Southern Irish establishment that fought ferociously to prevent such a (for them) nightmare scenario. See this excellent report in the Belfast Telegraph for example:
In other words, the English (at the highest symbolic level for them) have completely contradicted and cut the journalistic legs from under the Dublin 4 set (including an RTÉ is that is still in Section 31 land) and their Northern counterparts who have continually argued that Adams is “toxic” beyond the pale of respectability and that the IRA’s campaign was baseless and without honour.
Whether these pro-Unionist drones like it or not, the world will look on and see a former guerilla leader being acknowledged by the next king of England (possibly) and former sworn adversary.
Obviously, from the English side (the MI6, 'Star Chamber' side), the hope is that the more Sinn Féin is embraced into the capitalist fold, the more it will forget all those silly ideas about a decent, indeed exhilarating, life for everybody via a fundamental redistribution of wealth and resources. Irish people meanwhile hope (almost against hope) that SF will retain its radical edge come what may. It’s a question of trust.
But for the purposes of this blog, let it be said that in poll after poll, the plain people of Ireland have ignored the rantings of their media 'betters' and plumped for Sinn Féin. In England meanwhile, the House of Windsor has slapped down Ireland’s pro-Unionist media elite and insisted that Sinn Féin and the IRA have a superior status.
Whatever about that handshake, the censorship game is up.
Mí Bealtaine 2015