Belfast Telegraph

Adams' shameful urging for Tom Oliver's IRA killers to remain free will surely put an end to SF hopes of a coalition in Dublin

Editor's Viewpoint

Gerry Adams' outrageous comment that jailing the IRA killers of Louth farmer Tom Oliver - in the unlikely event that they are ever unmasked - would serve no purpose and be counter-productive would end the career of any other leading politician in a western democratic society.

In that context it would also, in all probability, lead to a revolt from within their own party, knowing the electoral damage such statements would cause.

Tom Oliver was an innocent man brutally tortured and murdered by the IRA, which claimed without foundation that he was an informer. And lest it be forgotten, if he was alive today he would be a constituent of Mr Adams, a Louth TD.

Mr Adams has been a leading republican for nearly 50 years and unchallenged head of Sinn Fein since 1983 when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher were the respective leaders of their countries.

Yet he trails a wake of toxicity wherever he goes.

As journalist Malachi O'Doherty notes in an exclusive extract from his unauthorised biography of Mr Adams which we publish today, the Sinn Fein leader is impervious to criticism or even the most serious charges which have been levelled at him. He has faced down opponents for decades and his party still harbours hopes of at least being a partner in government in the Republic. He is the one figure with the authority to unite the party north and south of the border, and used his influence and guile to move the IRA from war to peace in a change of strategy.

Yet, as speculation mounts that he may stand down at the Ard Fheis in November, there is a persistent feeling his powers are waning. He is both the strength of the party in his authority and its weakness in his increasingly bizarre statements. What possible reason did he have for making his comments about Mr Oliver? Any party in the Republic, no matter how desperate to get into government, would surely find a coalition with Sinn Fein led by Mr Adams beyond the pale.

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