The IRA’s culture of silence extended to child abuse

The alleged child abuse in Gerry Adams’s family is close to being a perfect metaphor for Ireland’s failure to confront the disaster of violent republicanism. With sexual violence as with political violence, with the personal as well as the political, Irish nationalism cannot break from the dire illusions of the past.

As of Christmas, we had learnt that in 1987, 14-year-old Aine Adams claimed to her Uncle Gerry that her father – his brother, Liam – had been abusing her since she was four years old. He believed her. “She was always a very good wee girl; I just couldn’t imagine a child like her making up such a serious allegation,” he told Ulster TV, before going on to reveal that his father, whom he had buried with full republican honours, had also been a paedophile. Inadvertently or not, the unexpected baring of a soul few suspected he possessed diverted attention and it took a few days for the press to move from praising Adams’s “bravery” in emoting about his father to the practical question of what he had done for his niece and for other potential victims.

As far as I can see, for 22 years, he did next to nothing until Aine forced the issue by going on camera. She told Adams she had proved that there was a prima facie case to answer by agreeing to a police medical examination. Instead of being supported, Aine was persuaded to stop co-operating with the forces of British imperialism. In 1995, Adams went further and insisted that all abused Catholic boys and girls should refuse to talk to the RUC because the authorities used “these issues for their own militaristic ends”.

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2 thoughts on “The IRA’s culture of silence extended to child abuse

  1. Catholicism has turned out to be really, really terrible for the Irish and the Native-Americans. It doesn’t seemed to have caused the same misery for the Spanish or the Italians, Germans or French.

    A long time ago I read a book about San Francisco during the gold rush days. There was a report that some Irish girls had been forced into “white slave” relationships by heathen Chinese men.”

    Fortunately, a particularly open minded and savvy Irish cop was sent to investigate these “relationships.”

    The Irish girls he interviewed said that they “were not slaves at all and were very happy with their Chinese husbands because they worked hard, did not drink and did not beat them like an Irish husband would. They only expected their wives to keep clean and cook a little.”

    The cop reported to his superior that, in his opinion, the Irish girls and their husbands should be left alone.

  2. Suurrrrre. Catholicism has been terrible for such Irishmen as the Marxist agnostics who staff the IRA. And of course such horrors (which happen just as frequently among Protestants – Kincora, anybody?) have nothing to do with the four centuries of oppression, persecution, enslavement (literally, in Cromwell’s time the Irish were sold as slaves in the new American colonies), massacre, deception, starvation and insolence that sum up the civilizing mission of the English in Ireland. From the age of Elizabeth on, the English intended to destroy Irish culture and exterminate the Irish; by the time the potato famine was allowed to do their job for them, Ireland had been battered out of any shape. That a country heaped so high with horror and suffering should have some residual twisted elements in its make-up, even after independence, is hardly surprising; what is surprising is that it should have survived at all the courteous attention of its neighbour. And any time that an English person feels tempted to indulge the most loathsome part of their national character – namely, self-righteousness – at the expense of Irish Catholics, I suggest they shut up until they have gone back and read a little Irish history.

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