Sunday, 4 May 2014

Adams' arrest is the price of peace

The police have been granted more time to question Gerry Adams over involvement in the murder of Jean McConville in 1972.
Mr Adams, 65, vehemently denies allegations levelled by former republican colleagues that he ordered Jean McConville's murder and secret burial in 1972 after she was wrongly accused of passing information to the security forces.
Well, he would, wouldn't he, as he has always denied being a member of the IRA.

It isn't surprising that the police need more time to interrogate Adams. After all, he's had more than 40 years to prepare his answers ...

Unsurprisingly, the arrest of Adams has attracted a lot of Republican ire, including threats to withdraw co-operation with the police and the hint that the peace process itself may be jeopardised.

I think the arrest of Adams is justified. He has been implicated in a grotesque murder. No matter what militarist jargon you use, whatever justifications you attempt, a widowed mother of ten was brutally murdered.

Even if she was acting on behalf of British intelligence - which is very doubtful - her killing was a barbaric, evil act. If Adams knows anything about it - and it is preposterous to suggest he doesn't - he needs to admit it. It was a dark act from the dark days of the 1970s.

Adams deserves credit for dragging the Republican movement into peace talks and ending the bloodshed an violence. Another of Moloney's points is that Adams started moving the IRA away from violence long is generally realised. In the mid 80s, he started making the first contacts with Ireland and London, and reversed the abstentionism policy for political institutions. The infamous "Aramlite and the ballot box" strategy was actually a massive commitment towards democracy and a crucial step towards peace.

Adams might have done some reprehensible things but without him, there probably would not have been a peace settlement and the psychotic violence would still be going on.  But he owes the peace the truth. Denying any involvement in McConville's murder, and letting her killers walk freely, is an insult to her, her children and the peace process he started.

It also mitigates the shame of Britain's own failings in Ireland - as long as the circumstances around McConville's death is still a dirty little secret for the IRA, then it is hypocritical for Adams and others to talk about truth and reconciliation, and for the British to account for their own bloody actions.

He needs to face the consequences of what he (most likely) was involved in. So does everyone.

I hope the threats about withdrawing co-operation with the police and intimations of the peace coming to an end are just bluster. Whatever his past, Adams was committed to a settled, compromise peace by the mid 80s, an incredibly dangerous position to take.

Oddly, the test of his legacy will be seeing if the settlement can survive his arrest, possible trial and conviction. If it can, in a strange way, it will show how much of an impact he had.

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