North and south, Sinn Fein's horrible attitude has made it the real Nasty Party
Gerry Adams' attack on outgoing Taoiseach was a mean-spirited own goal, writes Ruth Dudley Edwards
He and I had our differences. So said Gerry Adams last week of Enda Kenny, when reluctantly and a bit late in the day, at 66 and in excellent health, he stepped down as leader of Fine Gael. “But I acknowledge that he did his best from his perspective. From Sinn Fein’s perspective, this was not good enough.”
He then proceeded to explain with his familiar condescension how Mr Kenny had failed to meet Sinn Fein’s exacting standards.
Kenny has been in the Dail since 1975 when, at 24 and in true Irish dynastic tradition, he succeeded his father as TD for Mayo South.
He became head of his party in 2002, revived its fortunes and served as Taoiseach from 2011.
There are plenty of criticisms to be made of him — as there are of most politicians — but he is personally popular and, in the Republic of Ireland, when someone steps down, the custom is for members of the Dail to be generous-spirited.
So Micheal Martin, for instance, leader of Fianna Fail — whose enmity with Fine Gael has roots in the Irish Civil War of 1922-3 — spoke of Mr Kenny’s dedication and diligence.
“While over the years we have had our differences on many political and policy issues, I have always appreciated Enda’s decency, good humour and approachability.”
Brendan Corish, the leader of the Labour Party, spoke of his humour, grace and determination.
And the spokesman for the Independent Alliance described him as “a true statesman who always had the interests of the country at his core”.
Mr Adams, however, delivered a denunciation of Mr Kenny, whose political legacy, he said, was “dominated by crisis, chaos, and chronic lack of accountability”.
Yep. Those were the words of a republican leader who tells us he was never in the IRA, who spent most of his life trying to destroy Northern Ireland, who was behind the bringing down of the Executive for completely spurious reasons, and has instructed the obedient Michelle O’Neill to wreck the talks.
If he had a sense of humour, one would suspect he was privately having a laugh.
But he doesn’t and he isn’t.
Mr Adams is wholly out of sympathy with the southern mindset.
Like the most bitter northern republicans, he’s full of rage at what he sees as a century of betrayal of his northern tribe by a southern state that accepted partition, and makes his contempt for it clear at every opportunity.
He also instils in his followers a culture of aggression, victimhood, entitlement and breathtaking hypocrisy, while claiming the moral high ground by wittering patronisingly and mendaciously about human rights, equality and any other concepts that can be used for party advantage.
That’s one of the many reasons why he and his acolytes are so disliked by almost all non-Sinn Fein politicians.
As the IRA entrenched partition in Northern Ireland by waging a cruel ethnic war against their neighbours, in the south they entrench it by making southerners wary and distrustful of those they privately call Nordies.
One of my Dublin friends emailed me after Mr Adams’ speech to say: “Gerry was pretty ungracious about Enda, which won’t do him (Gerry) much good.”
And it won’t.
My countrymen dislike meanness of spirit.
In his comments on Mr Kenny’s career Mr Adams said his government “showed a clear lack of affinity with the North and a clear lack of consistent strategic engagement on the process of change that is required to sustain the political institutions”.
Well, Mr Adams, you can claim a great deal of the credit for that.
In the eyes of most southern politicians, governments over two decades have tried to help clear up the mess brutal paramilitaries made of Northern Ireland and have got precious little thanks for it.
They feel it’s time the politicians up north sorted things out for themselves.
They’re also preoccupied with Brexit and feel politicians should be focussing on that rather than demanding a divisive and pointless border poll.
And they’re tired of being hectored by people who seem to take pleasure from being horrible.
Now the DUP has ceased to be run by religious bigots, Sinn Fein has no competition for its unique position in Irish life.
It truly is The Nasty Party.
Belfast Telegraph Digital