As much as many might find Gerry Adams the most sinister of characters, with something of the night about him, they can hardly deny that he has reservoirs of resilience. Even some of his most critical fellow volunteers from the days when he was a senior IRA leader grant him that much.
His relentless war against truth is a battle he has thus far survived without ever winning. Nobody really believes him although for reasons of expediency some pretend to. Despite having more accomplishments to his name than Harold Shipman, his limitless ability to endure the accusations that follow him around like a bad smell requires more than the average person is capable of drawing from the well of life. Tenacity, as most of us come to discover, is a finite resource. Not in his case. He could survive Ebola, although not before transmitting it to someone else under the guise of treating them.
Even if much of his stamina is sustained by an insatiable craving for power, Adams has against all the odds, dug very deep to find the reserves with which to advance his political career. No other leader of a political party in Western European can rival his longevity. Yet no one is an island and despite his herculean talent for climbing the greasy pole, his own steam alone would never have been secured his survival. The party structure in which he is immersed provides him with a weighty anchor, ensuring that external turbulence is never allowed to topple him.
But even Sinn Fein, despite proving more impervious than the Irish Catholic Church, must now be wondering how many more scandals it is capable of withstanding, particularly if they are rooted in sexual abuse. Unlike the Ebola which Adams could survive, there is no vaccine that can halt the march of abuse survivors. With a scandal prone leader the future is going to be a bumpy ride: each time the party is on parade hard rains are gonna fall.
This daunting thought seemed etched on the face of Mary Lou McDonald today in the Dail where Enda Kenny in sombre tone sliced through the bullying and hectoring of Adams to land a telling, if beneath the belt, blow on the Sinn Fein commander. Adams fumed but McDonald winced. It must have hurt her deeply to hear Kenny imply she was a craven coward who is utterly deferential to her party leader when Máiría Cahill has shown such courage in tackling the same leader. One Belfast journalist commented ‘The look on Mary Lou's face alone is worth enduring this for.’
Mary Lou McDonald is not a coward. She has held her own with the best of them. What she has foolishly chosen to do is place a premium on loyalty over autonomy. Those watching her performances know that Adams could tell her that he is in fact a 16th century Persian prince and she would go on national television claiming to believe him.
This blind adherence is feeding the ridicule being heaped upon Sinn Fein. New Sinn Fein is being hampered because its old martial leaders are unwilling to relax their grip. Mary Lou McDonald is Vice President of Sinn Fein and should demonstrate her autonomy not her acquiescence to the President of Pervia.