Political Comment from today’s Irish Independent – No change same old arrogance

NEXT month, Mary Lou McDonald will be installed as the new leader of Sinn Féin, replacing a president who has held office for more than 34 full years. We had grown used to Gerry Adams’s carping about media agendas. He has done a unique line in seeming ever so wounded when his various levels of messaging are collated and put into plain English. Last September he did just that, complaining that reports in this newspaper of comments he made on local radio, LMFM, had breached truth and accuracy.

The Press Ombudsman rejected Mr Adams’s complaints about reporting of his remarks on the death of Louth farmer Tom Oliver in 1991. The Ombudsman deemed Mr Adams’s views, as reported, were “newsworthy”.

An extraordinary interview with the party’s leader designate, Ms McDonald, on RTÉ news yesterday showed, however, that she will be carrying forward Mr Adams’s wounded ability to see media agendas at every turn.

Ms McDonald was asked about how real a sanction the three-month suspension from party activities was for their Westminster MP Barry McElduff. Ms McDonald had acknowledged that his ‘Kingsmill’ video was “stupid and obnoxious”. But continued questioning by the interviewer about the perceived weakness of any sanction, and potential damage done by the incident to any efforts to end political deadlock in the North, were met with an extraordinary response. Ms McDonald suggested there may be an agenda “being pursued by RTÉ”.

That little radio vignette is worth pondering. It is very clear evidence that while Sinn Féin will change its leader next month, not much else is going to change.