Belfast Telegraph

If Gerry Adams is hell-bent on destruction, let's make sure he takes the rap

By Ruth Dudley Edwards

Alderman Chris McGimpsey is an old friend of mine whom I value for many reasons, including his thorough decency, his passionate desire to help people at the bottom of the heap, his complete lack of any kind of sectarianism and his black humour.

"Martin McGuinness was buried today," he wrote on Facebook. "He is survived by his wife, four children and hundreds of widows."

I cheered that, for I shared his concern for the suffering the eulogising of McGuinness would cause victims of that pitiless serial killer and - like him - thought the least we could all do was remind people of the truth.

But I was rather concerned about the implicit criticism of unionists who attended the funeral that was evident in some of the posts that followed from, for instance, Aileen Quinton, a fine woman who has spent 30 years fighting for justice for her mother Alberta, slaughtered on Remembrance Day 1987 in Enniskillen.

I know it's been a sickening week, but I would just say to anyone angry with Arlene Foster and other elected unionist politicians for attending that event - if you've ever voted for a party committed to sharing power with Sinn Fein, you have to accept that this was bound to involve many upsetting compromises.

I can't imagine how hard it was for Mrs Foster to go to Derry last week with the image of her badly injured father in her memory along with so many other terrible events she witnessed in her Fermanagh childhood and listen to sickening praise from the likes of the cynical Bill Clinton and the naive Reverend David Latimer, but she's a professional politician and she did her duty.

And she did it with grace - as when she grasped the outstretched hand of Michelle O'Neill, who only a few weeks ago eulogised four young men who had died trying to murder for Ireland.

There were many people who were no fans of Mrs Foster who felt that she had redeemed recent clumsinesses in dealing with nationalists and had managed to set the negotiations back on track.

But they had been over-sentimentalising McGuinness and reckoning without the hidden agenda of Gerry Adams.

President Clinton told the gathering that "our friend earned... the right to ask us to honour his legacy by our living", and the Rev Latimer said he had "finished well (and) has offered us a basis for continuing to build a foundation that is going to help this little fragile peace process of ours if we pay attention to the way he did things and the way he conducted himself as a politician".

They seemed to have forgotten that McGuinness always put party before anything else.

His last act had been to pull down the Stormont Executive on a pretext that suited Mr Adams, who clearly has been determined over the past few weeks to wreck any attempt to put the Executive back together in the foreseeable future. My guess is that he was very annoyed that Mrs Foster attended the funeral and took Mrs O'Neill's hand, since this made it more difficult to represent the DUP as being in the wrong.

Adams is never happier than in a crisis.

His mind is now on Brexit, Brexit, Brexit, and how he can use it to Sinn Fein's electoral advantage in the Republic by stoking up Anglophobia, staging angry border protests and forcing direct confrontations with the British Government.

He chose his words deliberately in that oration at McGuinness's graveside, to perform the twin tasks of feeding the prejudices of hardline republicans while simultaneously infuriating unionists.

Having described McGuinness as a freedom fighter, he instructed his audience: "Stand against bigotry. Against sectarianism. But respect our unionist neighbours."

I read that paragraph over the phone to a unionist friend who has carried many coffins of people murdered by the IRA.

"The b******," he said, instantly recognising that Mr Adams had carefully framed it to indicate that only unionists were sectarian and bigoted.

This is no time for good people to fall out with each other.

If, as it seems, Mr Adams is hell-bent on destruction, those who want politics to work in Northern Ireland should make sure he gets the blame.

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