Jude Collins

Friday, 9 September 2011

Bertie Ahern, Gerry Adams and the southern media

Poor Bertie Ahern.  Once he was everybody’s favourite.  He  liked a pint, he liked going to Croke Park, he liked Man United, he was open about living with a woman who wasn’t his wife,  he kept the unions onside, he presided over boom times, he wasn’t Charlie Haughey. A dream of a taoiseach. Then the economic roof fell in and smiles turned to yells of rage. God knows Bertie hasn’t helped himself. He did a daft  TV commercial where he was stuck in a cupboard (it doesn’t matter WHY he was there, just pay attention) and he’s been drawing a huge pension - €150,000 and €265,000 in “secretarial expenses” over the last three years. Now he’s capped it all by saying that during his term in office, the people in the south “went mad about house-buying”. One paper even added to its headline “Sneers Bertie”.  What a plonker!  Pointing the finger at other people when everyone knows he was the one that brought the southern state to its  knees. Take that, Ahern, the southern media screamed all last weekend. And that and that. You gurrier. 

Hey – newsflash: Bertie is a politician. It’s his job to look good and, if necessary, shift the blame. When’s the last time you saw a politician come out and say “I made a right pig’s posterior of that one”? Doesn’t happen.  Not in their nature. So it’s a bit unfair to pick out old Bertie for such a thorough kicking. Although  - and this is the interesting bit - the kicking was invariably modified by “Of course we do owe him a lot for delivering the peace process”. 

Eh? We know Bertie’s mother died during the final negotiations in the north. And we know he drove or got himself driven up to Stormont to carry on with the work.  But he “delivered the peace process”?  The media, particularly in the south, are a funny lot. They lock onto a version of events and you couldn’t shift it with a bulldozer, even when it’s crashingly clear that the version is off-beam. 

The truth is, the Good Friday Agreement came about for one major reason: because the IRA called  a ceasefire. And if you then ask “Who was it persuaded the IRA to call a ceasefire?” the answer is not Bertie Ahern, that’s for sure. One person was central to the IRA ceasefire which made possible the creation of the Good Friday Agreement  - to which, yes of course, others, including Bertie, contributed. Who was that one person? Gerry Adams. Now there's a name that sticks in the craw of the southern media.  The peace process? Um, Bertie Ahern. And Albert Reynolds. And of course Tony Blair – key figure, Blair. And Ian Paisley – mustn’t forget the big man. Then there’s Bill Clinton, crucial, really crucial. And that guy who used to have a beard, shaved it since – yes, Niall O’Dowd. And that’s about it.  Apart from John Hume, of course. Trojan work, Hume. Let’s leave it there, shall we?...What’s that? Gerry who? Don’t know why you bring him up.  Apart from denying he was in the IRA, can’t see what he did to bring the peace process into being. Anyway, we don’t like using his name around here. In fact to be safe, we don’t use ANY words that begin with a G or an A, except they link to something negative. 

The south’s media are good at moral judgments, though. Drunk driving, sexual abuse, racism, corrupt developers – they’ll point the finger and name the names. All the while erasing or attempting to erase facts or contributions that  don’t fit their version of history. Maybe take time off kicking Bertie, guys, and take a look in the mirror. 


  1. Love the way you try to push John Hume to the margins there. It is both laughable and disgusting the way in which Sinn Fein present themselves as architects of the peace process. Had they not been waging war there would have been no need for a peace process. Adams used the war, used the hunger strike, to promote the party and when the time was right he turned the violence off like a tap. Am I glad he did? Of course, but don't ask me to praise someone who's decided to stop trying to kill me.

  2. Your Adams adulation is bordering on sycophantic.

    The Brits, IRA informers and deadly loyalist assassins brought about the ceasefire of a defeated IRA.
    Gerry simply tried to make the best of a bad lot and acquiesced to a partitionist settlement that he would have ordered others to be shot for signing a couple years earlier.

  3. Jude. Gerry Adams undoubtedly did have a role in the peace process. Good for him. Do you think he had any role in the unpeace process we endured for 30 years before that?
    Not expecting an answer.

  4. Well, giordanobruno, let me roadblock your expectations then. I don't know if Gerry Adams had any role in 'the unpeace process' and I suspect neither do you. I do know that he says he wasn't in the IRA but that he supported the IRA, so I suppose that gives him a role of some kind, just like all the other combatants. My column, if you try reading it, centres on what role he played in bringing the armed conflict to an end. That's all. And to anyone but the most wilfully blind, it was a central role. You don't have to admire him or like him or anything else. Just acknowledge the facts. But the southern media - and, it appears, a few posters here - find that very difficult to do.

  5. "Erasing or attempting to erase facts or contributions that dont fit their version of history".That almost sounds like the A/town News or the unlamented Daily Ireland!Who do we know who writes/wrote for both papers?Look into the mirror Jude.But its Ard-Fheis time and you have to promote the party line.

  6. Apart from Jude and Paddy Prendeville of Phoenix it's rare to see any serious examination of Ahern's contribution to the peace process which was minimal. He was in office as the events unfolded, that was it. A corrupt man who abused the political office and who as disgraced it.Jude is challenging the view which continues to be fostered by the media in the South that Ahern was a masterful politician dedicated to the peace process.This is a nonsense and I'm glad that Jude has challenged it. Apparently he hated crossing the border and couldn't stand the sight of the place. He probably felt more at home sitting in Old Trafford.

  7. Jude
    Indeed anyone but the wilfully blind would know exactly what role Gerry Adams played. Only those who make war can make the peace.
    I don't think Gerry Adams deserves any particular praise for doing what was clearly the right and humane thing in pursuing peace. Especially as it would appear to have been a strategic move towards his political goal, rather than any road to damascus conversion.
    So as I said before I do acknowledge his role (a central one, as you say), but I don't have to admire him.
    I don't follow the media in the South closely, so I have to ask; who are these people who deny that Gerry had a role in the ending of armed struggle?

  8. Prominent media people in the south are falling over each other to declare GA's part in the armed struggle and equally falling over themselves NOT to mention his name when giving credit for the peace process. It'd be quicker to list those who acknowledge his central role in the peace process but I'm not exaggerating when I say I can't think of a single commentator - on RTE, in the Irish Independent, any other media - who, when talking about the peace process, puts GA at the front of the queue. I repeat: you don't have to like him, you might even hate him, that's not the issue: it's facts not emotions that are being erased.