Funny old thing, lying. When I was a youngster I used read books where Englishmen would blow their top if accused in this way. “Are you calling me a liar, sir??” Pistols at dawn and all that. And of course we were brought up with a catechism which told us that “No reason or motive can excuse a lie”. Which always presented me with a problem on those occasions a female looked me in the eye and asked “Does my bum look big in this?”
Ten years ago Chris Huhne got his wife to take a speeding fine for him and lied that she’d been the driver of the car at the time.One thing has led to another, and now from being a runner for the top post with the Lib Dems, he’s had to resign his seat and is probably on his way to prison. Closer to home and on the back of an opinion poll, the Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has told journalists “I have watched Sinn Féin in the North, all they have been about there is getting votes and securing power”. Later on in the same interview he added “I have no interest in just winning votes”. Would you say Micheal himself believes both those statements?
Which brings us to Gerry Adams and the Pope. Gerry Adams has repeatedly said he wasn’t in the IRA, a statement which the media world and beyond have declared a lie. And while Pope Pius XII has been denounced by many as anti-Semitic during WW2, a report in today’s Observer suggests that he wasn’t, and in fact arranged for fake baptism certificates to be issued to hundreds of Jews hidden in Italy, got fabricated Vatican documents to 2,000 Jews in Hungary identifying them as Catholics, and was involved with the hiding of 4,000 Jews in convents and monasteries across Italy. Or to put it another way, Pope Pius XII concocted lies about thousands of Jews.
And I haven’t even mentioned the matter of pleading “Not guilty” in court. If you know you’re guilty and say you're not, that’s clearly a lie. But you’ve employed a lawyer to fight your case; if you start by pleading Guilty, the show is over before it’s started.
You see where I’m going with this? Strictly speaking, lies are woven into the fabric of all our lives. Lies can be told to impress the electorate, lies can be told to save lives, lies can be told to protect yourself from prosecution. Not to mention a kick in the teeth should you say “Yes, your bum does look big in that. Enormous, in fact”.
So I do hope the next interviewer to ask Gerry Adams the well-worn “Were you in the IRA?” question will keep those complexities in mind. Even though I'm certain they won’t. And that’s the truth.