Monday, February 2, 2009

The First Day Of Spring

February 1st 09

The First Day Of Spring.

Lá Féile Bríde faoi mhaise daoibh. Today is the first day of Spring here in Ireland. Saint Brigid’s Day. The days are lengthening. By a rooster’s step every day, the rural elders tell us. And crocuses and daffodils are peeking through and visible in sheltered spots. It is always a great joy to feel the change of seasons that we enjoy here in this small island. I like all the seasons but Spring always has the capacity to uplift our spirits. So too does the annual Féile An Earraigh in Belfast, an established part of Féile an Phobail. If you are about these parts from the fifth of February to the eighth and are interested in the best of ceol agus craic, debate, drama, mountain walks, literary matters, exhibitions or dancing then check out

This blog is a highly mobile affair this week. I am in the car putting it together, poking away at the laptop. Don’t worry I’m not driving. On my way to Derry for the annual Bloody Sunday rally. Bairbre de Brún, one of today’s speakers, reminds me that that massacre happened thirty seven years ago. That’s hard to believe. It doesn’t seem so long ago. It is also a matter of particular satisfaction, and I am sure a matter of great consolation to the families of the Bloody Sunday civil rights martyrs, that so many people turn out year after year despite the virtual media blackout. Apart from the times I was in prison I have made this journey most years.

The Eames-Bradley Report will no doubt be in many people's minds. As I write it is being discussed on RTE’s This Week radio programme. The focus understandably is on last Wednesday’s rowdy scenes at the launch of the report. In my view the television and other media images give the wrong impression of what happened. It wasn’t ‘rival victims groups’ fighting with each other. There were a few hundred people there, most of them victims or bereaved families of victims. I have no doubt they represented all sides and no doubt also that many of them were feeling raw and vulnerable as they assembled in the large room in the Europa Hotel. But they did so quietly and with dignity.

Traditional Unionist Voice, the breakaway group led by former DUP member Jim Allister MEP, had a small picket on the hotel. Later they went into the event itself and positioned themselves in front of the platform. There they stood for some time. When they were eventually asked to move by the organisers they refused, even though they they were told they were welcome to stay in the hall. That is when some of their number started to verbally abuse the Commission. This went on for some time. It was during this period that some of the audience, not unreasonably called on them to move. They in turn were screamed at. And so it went on until Robin Eames, Denis Bradley and the other commissioners arrived on the platform to be interrupted and heckled as well as the rest of us.

There has been a certain focus on the attention I received from some of the protestors. I can understand why anyone who has suffered at the hands of republicans would feel sore at me. Families bereaved by the IRA are entitled to make their feelings clear. However the fact is that those who did the most blatant grandstanding were acting out of political opportunism as opposed to personal loss. Fact is that this was not welcomed by the vast majority of the audience listening to them. A number of people talking to me afterwards, while telling me they were not supporters of Sinn Féin, made it clear that they wanted no part of the Traditional Unionist Voice carry on. They included one former RUC officer.

There was a huge turn out at the Bloody Sunday rally. The news from that front is that the very patient and dignified families of the dead of Bloody Sunday are now taking legal action in an attempt to get sight of the Report of the Saville Commission at the same time as the British Government. As it sits at present the Brits will get the report in advance of anyone else and as the families said at the rally that’s not fair.

Of course Saville himself could settle that issue by making sure the families get his report. He should also publish it soon.

And Finally.

On a lighter note. Back in the Assembly. A few months ago at Stormont showers were installed in some of the toilets. They are called restrooms on the hill. The following notice is affixed to the one close to my office. TAKE NOTE. THIS SHOWER IS TO BE USED ONLY FOR SHOWERING PURPOSES.

And Finally… Finally.

Talking of restrooms. I was resting in one recently. So was Jim Wells, DUP MLA

‘Good morning Jim,’ I said.

He ignored me, having more important matters in hand I supposed. So undeterred and rather naively in my friendly way I prattled on.

‘Sunday was the first day of Spring’ I suggested, having heard that Jim is a big environmentalist.

‘Monster’ he hissed ‘Monster ……..’

And then he left.

Ach well …… I don’t know if he was talking to me or not. Or maybe our Jim is a fan of the Addams Familee? Who knows? Who can tell? Is this heaven? Or is this hell?




Linda Coleman said...

In the States, it's Groundhog Day, the day we're supposed to predict the arrival of Spring weather by whether or not some oversized rodent in Pennsylvania sees his shadow.

Personally, I don't put much faith in any creature that's scared of its own shadow. My cat saw his shadow this morning and curled up for a nap on the floor in the nice sunbeam. That's what I call sensible.

Enjoy the Féile!

Anonymous said...

Well Gerry, to answer your question, its like the visitor who went to Rome and saw gold phones in all the churchs with signs that said direct calls to heaven, cost $1000. When he got to Ireland and saw a gold phone in church with the same sign but the cost was only 25cents the priest told him it was a local call. E.F.

Fra said...

Being from Newcastle I have experienced Jim Wells' narrow minded bigotry many times. The man refuses to even be civil with republicans.

He would find a better home with the TUV perhaps?

Anonymous said...

Brilliant post! Certainly came on a lot! A bit of humor goes along way Mr Adams!

Derry Comrade!

Colm MacNiallais said...

Here's what you should do, Gerry, about that shower sign. Take a picture of it and send it into Jay Leno. It needs to be on his Headlines segment. "TAKE NOTE. THIS SHOWER IS TO BE USED ONLY FOR SHOWERING PURPOSES." Oh really. I didn't know that. I just use it for drinking. Ha.

Linda Coleman said...

Gerry, I just figured out why there's a disclaimer on the restroom door about proper use of the shower. Somebody must have seen the episode of the TV show "Seinfeld" where Kramer installs a disposal in his shower so he can save time by showering and making dinner at the same time.

Apparently, that kind of thing's not allowed at Stormont.

Can't find a video clip of that scene, but here's a funny one, where Kramer decides he can improve his showering efficiency by watching other guys shower and taking notes:

You probably shouldn't do that at Stormont, either!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Jim was talking to what ever Monster he had left behind.
I hope he gave it a good baptism in the holy water in the loos in Stormont.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Adams, I've just been visiting your blog for the first time and there are some very interesting reads on it. I like the article you wrote completely in capital letters! I hope you weren't shouting!!;-)

I read one of your posts were you said that you cannot reply to people on an individual basis and it is the same with the many letters you receive, which is perfectly understandable. I actually left a letter into your Falls Road office just last week from my wife and I regarding our 3 year old son. I hope you got/get the time to read it and have a look at the other things with it and I hope you can find the time to respond to us.

Keep up the good work on the blog!

Liam O'Duinn

Kate said...

You may call it progress.
Years ago the sign might have read.


Ta ar la anois !

Linda Coleman said...

Speaking of humor, Gerry, next time you're doing a book tour in the States, you should consider scheduling a booking on Stephen Colbert's show.

It's comedy, but with real news in it; they cover news the mainstream media misses. Their demographic is younger people who are actually getting most of their news from Colbert and from John Stewart's show. Everybody who goes on these shows gets a boost in book sales, and people with a sense of humor, who "get it" do very, very well in the interview.

Bonus: Stephen Colbert a descendant of Conn Colbert, of the Easter Rising!

Ask your PR team to have a look The Colbert Report and The Daily Show at the Comedy Central website ( and see what they think.

Colbert's persona is a right-wing conservative--here's a clip of him being interviewed by an actual right-wing conservative, Bill O'Reilly:

(He talks about his Irish ancestry at clip position 5:40)

Anonymous said...

Hi Gerry, That Jim Wells story is hilarious! Hope the interview with my Mum in Ringsend went well. Sorry I missed you, she really enjoyed it. All the best, Roisin

Tim said...

Wonderful post Gerry,
It is too bad that you have to be the center of people venting there personal
feelings in public, that is the life of a public servant. If only people understood
that they would not have that freedom without the everyday hard work to ensure the equal rights that are enjoyed.Gura slán an scéalaí

Linda Coleman said...

Gerry, I thought about your "toilet summit" with Jim Wells when I attended a leadership conference yesterday. It was designed to train us liberals to engage the other side in rational debate. In our country, talking about the weather is actually a good ice-breaker--thanks for that tip, Gerry--but our discussion leader chastised me for using the word "lie" at one point. Apparently, that word is off-limits. We're supposed so say, "That's a misstatement of the facts." (See, this is why I'm an activist, not a politician--I'd never remember to say that in a heated discussion!)

USA said...


Look on the bright side Gerry, perhaps he was commenting on the size of your 'manhood'.

siobhain said...

'a rooster's step?' Priceless-I'll be adding that to my creative treasury of images!

Talking of which, Mr A, 'the USA book tour?' - did I miss something? I hope it was some more sharp little short stories.... or maybe you should start thinking about treating us all to a truly atmospheric novel...? I'm sure it would be worth waiting for...

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear that Jim wells was rude to you .I knew him @ QUB and while he was no doubt intellectually challenged bad manners was not his forte...Jim no doubt has a thing for West belfast he told me once that votes were not counted in this area but weighted... in Newcastle on a wet Saturday as pleasant as can be. Adams you are a devil provoking such ill feeling in otherwise fine decent northern prods what ever next a United Ireland ? Heaven forbide Jim might even talk to you
Jude Whyte

Anonymous said...

I've just found your blog Gerry and I'm really enjoying it. You have a great sense of humour, and my goodness you need it with some of the abuse you get. Laughed about the Jim Wells segment. I know you're an extremely busy man (that being the understatement of the year), but I often read that you have been in various parts of Dublin helping to canvass and highlight issues. If there was any chance of you coming down to Balbriggan at all to give a push to our candidate's (who happens to be my husband!)local SF campaign, that would be fantastic. We've already had Mary Lou twice (who was also great and received a good response)and I think she's coming again, but the more the merrier! Anyway, just a thought, but I know it's a longshot. Keep up the good work.