Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams has not condemned the Manchester bomb ... but then didn’t his uncle blast Coventry?

There is no moral distinction between Salman Abedi and Dominic Adams, writes Nelson McCausland.

On Monday night, a suicide bomber murdered 22 innocent people at a concert in Manchester and left many more with horrific injuries. Most of the audience were children and parents and they were the terrorist’s intended targets.

This was the work of a radical Islamist and the murders have been admitted by the organisation that calls itself Islamic State.

The response to the Manchester attack was notable as political leaders from countries around the world expressed their horror and condemned the atrocity as “barbaric” and “evil”.

Generally, political leaders choose their words carefully when drafting such statements and that is certainly true for Sinn Fein.

By Tuesday morning, the Sinn Fein website carried two statements — one from Gerry Adams and one from Michelle O’Neill.

The statement from Adams was terse and avoided the word “condemn”. The statement from Michelle O’Neill was more fulsome and she said: “The attack at the Manchester Arena was horrific and I condemn it. I watched with shock and horror as the events unfolded overnight and the scale of the terrible attack became known. For something like that to happen while young people are out enjoying themselves is unthinkable.”

However, with the actions of the Provisional IRA, Sinn Fein politicians still refuse to join in what they call “the politics of condemnation”.

We saw that earlier this year, when Dr Peter Doran, a Queen’s University lecturer and Sinn Fein election candidate, refused to condemn the IRA murder of Edgar Graham.

It is true that Sinn Fein condemned the Omagh bomb in 1998, but that was the work of the Real IRA, not the Provisional IRA. Now, Michelle O’Neill has condemned an Islamist atrocity.

However, I don’t expect to hear Michelle O’Neill, Mairtin O Muilleoir, John Finucane, or any other Sinn Fein representative condemn the many murders carried out by the Provisional IRA.

Down through the years, their party has refused to condemn IRA atrocities and actually celebrated them in the ‘War News’ section of their newspaper, An Phoblacht.

On Tuesday morning, Theresa May spoke about the Manchester bomb and said that it was “not the first time Manchester has suffered in this way”.

She was right to point out that it was not the first terrorist attack in Manchester, because the Provisional IRA exploded two bombs in Manchester in December 1992 and injured 65 people. Another IRA bomb in Manchester in 1996 injured 206 people.

Indeed, it is all particularly difficult for Gerry Adams, since his uncle Dominic Adams was one of those linked to IRA bomb attacks in England in 1939, including the Coventry bombing on August 25, 1939, which killed five people.

However, there is no moral difference between what happened in Manchester this week and what the Provisional IRA did in Manchester in the 1990s.

Neither is there a moral difference between those who plan terrorist attacks today and Dominic Adams when he headed the IRA unit in Coventry at the time of the bomb there.

The inconsistency of Sinn Fein is glaringly obvious on the Sinn Fein website. By yesterday morning, Michelle O’Neill’s statement condemning the Manchester bomb was down to number 18 on the page of “latest statements”.

But right at the top of the page was a video of the graveside oration given by Gerry Adams on March 23 for Martin McGuinness.

He was flanked by Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou McDonald, who applauded as he said: “Martin McGuinness was not a terrorist. Martin McGuinness was a freedom fighter.”

The truth is that you can’t really condemn the murder of 22 people in Manchester and then refuse to condemn the Provisional IRA murder of 21 people in Birmingham in November 1974, or the murder of 10 Protestant workmen at Kingsmill. Sinn Fein have still not faced up to that reality.

They have come a considerable distance, but they still have some way to go and facing up to the truth about the IRA’s bloody terrorist war is part of what remains of that journey.

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