Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: US tribute to Adams blemished saint's day

Editor's Viewpoint

We in Northern Ireland owe a great debt of gratitude to Americans like former President Bill Clinton and special envoy George Mitchell, whose intervention and unstinting efforts played pivotal roles in the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.

It transformed life in the province - maybe not as completely as they and we would have hoped - and it has endured for 20 years.

But for every Clinton and Mitchell there have been many more Americans whose simplistic, green-tinted vision of the bitter and sordid conflict we call the Troubles only added to its toxic legacy.

They contributed tens of thousands of dollars to the IRA's war chest, provided arms and propagandised something they knew little about.

Sadly, it seems that ignorance is still evident, even among a political class one would have imagined to be better informed.

The Mayor of New York Bill de Blasio decided to rename St Patrick's Day as Gerry Adams Day, lauding him as a man who did not accept injustice and fought against it.

That might be the revision of history that republicans would like the world to believe, but the relatives of those hundreds of victims of the IRA would argue vehemently that republicans visited injustice on them and never repented.

Even the most diehard opponents of Gerry Adams will admit that he brought republicans to the stage where they were prepared to lay down their arms and embrace the peace process. For that he deserves credit.

However, on the debit side he will be forever tainted by his unwavering support for an organisation that carried out some of the most heinous murders of the Troubles.

St Patrick is one of the few shared symbols of this divided community and St Patrick's Day is celebrated around the world, wherever Irish people travel or congregate.

It is both a religious and civic festival but should be above politics, in the sense of associating it with any one person other than the saint.

We had another example last week of honouring Gerry Adams, when a Chicago-based craft beer company, the aptly named Revolution Brewery, named a new brew after the former Sinn Fein president.

However, it withdrew the beer and disposed of its remaining stock on learning that many people bereaved by the IRA objected to it.

Pity Bill de Blasio has not been similarly contrite.

Belfast Telegraph

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