Belfast Telegraph

Eilis O'Hanlon: Don't judge Chloe Adair by father's sins

Chloe Adair regularly shows off her favourite outfits to her thousands of Instagram followers
Chloe Adair regularly shows off her favourite outfits to her thousands of Instagram followers
Eilis O'Hanlon

By Eilis O'Hanlon

In Old Testament days, God threatened to punish children for the sins of their fathers "to the third and the fourth generation". Thankfully, that tends to be regarded as a bit extreme these days.

Chloe Adair should be no exception. Her father, Johnny, shamed the family name as one of Northern Ireland's most notorious loyalist paramilitaries, but that has nothing to do with his daughter. The up-and-coming Instagram personality, who left Belfast when she was only 12, is not her father's keeper.

There's something ugly about this ancient superstition that who you are as a person is defined by kinship; but too often here, people are still expected to be interchangeable with their blood relations.

That's what happens in small, closed communities. Everyone is defined in relation to each other.

As soon as you meet someone new, they want to 'place' you.

Aren't you the son or daughter of so-and-so? Didn't your cousin do such-and-such?

It's only natural to try and map those social connections.

It becomes a problem when someone decides they know everything about you just because they're in possession of a few factlets.

The Troubles produced many bad people. In due course, they had children of their own. It really shouldn't come as a shock that some of them took radically different paths, certainly not to anyone who's had children of their own.

It would be an awful world in which children turned into carbon copies of their mothers and fathers.

If Chloe was to defend her father's paramilitary past, then it would be perfectly justified to criticise her for it. The same would apply if she used her social media platform to spread hate or division.

But she doesn't. She posts harmless messages about fashion. Pictures of her parents must rouse dark memories to those whose lives were touched by Johnny Adair; but it's he who must answer for his crimes, not his daughter.

That Chloe has forged her own way in life, independent of her parentage, ought to be seen as an achievement, rather than a puzzle. If anything, she is now the positive role model that he failed to be in his own life.

Children should never be judged by the sins of their parents, but they can sometimes put right a few of those sins by rejecting the toxic example they've been given and going on to live better, more productive lives.

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