On 14 October Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein spoke in Southwark Cathedral as an invited guest at the launch of the European Social Forum. Two days earlier we had marked the 20th anniversary of the murderous bomb attack on the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton. Mr Adams described this bomb as a “blow for democracy”, a comment for which he has yet to apologise.
However many people vote for his party, Mr Adams remains an unrepentant cheer leader for murderers and the antithesis of everything that Southwark Cathedral should stand for. Dialogue with our enemies is often a good thing, but before providing a platform to a person with such a disgusting past and dubious present, we should ask whether giving him such an opportunity demonstrates a lack of respect for those who have suffered at the hands of him and his supporters.
The invitation to Mr Adams was inappropriate and its timing last week was especially crass and insensitive. The Dean and Chapter of Southwark Cathedral should emulate the fine example of David Beckham and apologise.
Have you written to the Dean and Chapter and told them this?
While they're apologising, maybe they should apologise for letting that other terrorist, Nelson Mandela, speak there too?
Surely, if anyone should be accused of insensitivity, it is the European Social Forum for hosting this event on this date with Gerry Adams as one of the speakers, not the Dean and Chapter of Southwark Cathedral?
TLMJJ - Whilst Mr Mandela was indeed a terrorist at least he has proved himself to be beyond reproach following his assent to power through his lack of (quite understandable) retribution against the white South Africans. (I did get your irony BTW). Also, on the comparison between the IRA and ANC, the ANC had what the vast majority of the world (excluding the soviet socialist bloc at the time) would consider a 'just' cause ie the right to equality before the law and universal suffrage.
The IRA on the other hand had no justification for murdering innocent civilians/soldiers in both Ulster and mainland Britain (aswell as Germany etc) as they had no just cause. There was a referendum in the 70's(?) in which the vast majority of people VOTED to remain part of the UK. If they had repeated this in the 80s and 90s or today the result would undoubtedly have been the same. A major reason for not repeating this is that the IRA would take the opportunity to murder more men, women and children as they have no respect for the democratic wishes of the people, unlike Mr Mandela and the ANC.
Whilst it has been for the greater good that His Tonyness has engaged the terrorists and his place in history is quite rightly assured because of this, it does not mean that this man should be welcomed into the fold, just as i would not have tea and biscuits should Osama bin Laden sudenly renounce terror and sign an amistice with the western world.
Gerry Adams et al wanted to enforce their own minority political agenda through shameless violence against the express will of the majority of the people. He was by no means a freedom fighter but an out and out terrorist and should be shunned by all except those that 'have' to do business with him to prevent more deaths.
His “Tonyness” has carried on with an initiative that has its roots in many earlier Administrations. I believe that John Major's Government broke the impasse. Certainly there has been contact with PIRA for many, many years at the highest levels of both Conservative and Labour Governments, in spite of many statements to the contrary. Yes there was a vote, hardly surprising that the (protestant) majority voted to remain within the UK. No great surprise either then that a disenfranchised minority that still looks on their neighbours as foreign invaders, discriminated against at every turn, should eventually embrace an armed struggle. I don't condone this either, however…..
Gerry Adams should be “welcomed into the fold” for many reasons, firstly, if it's accepted by all parties that nobody can “win” in Northern Ireland, it makes sense to negotiate. If you believe in democracy, then everybody should be encouraged to take part in an all-inclusive dialogue, Gerry Adams is also a democratically elected representative of his constituency, like it or not, those people deserve a voice. And we should demonstrate that democracy works.
As for the ANC having the support of the vast majority of the world except the Soviet bloc, I remember it very differently; The US was anti the ANC, and very much pro the apartheid era South Africa, mainly because of cold war expediency, likewise the British Conservatives. since then their has been a great deal of revisionism. The ANC, as revolutionary socialists, would have been looked on with great favour by the Soviets.
I'm especially pleased that the Church should provide a venue, I personally don't follow a religion, but the idea of redemption appeals to me strongly, if not redemption in the eyes of a God, then certainly redemption in the eyes of your fellow man.
Yes, I did speak to the Dean about it. I found him a little defensive and reluctant to engage in dialogue with me.
With respect, it's daft to compare Gerry Adams to Nelson Mandela. After many years of peaceful activity Mandela reluctantly turned to violence for a brief period. Adams had no background in non-violent struggle and enthusiastically egged on murderers for many years.
And if anybody thinks there is any comparison between South Africa in the apartheid era and Northern Ireland in the 1960s, then could they produce evidence that Catholics weren't allowed to vote, weren't allowed to move freely round the country, weren't allowed to put their bums on the same bus seats as Protestants and that their leaders were in gaol for 25 years.
I do also blame Ken Livingstone and the European Social Forum for the invite, but I have a very low opinion of our mayor and don't expect much from him. I generally have a high opinion of the CofE and I hope for something better from them.
Suppose the next Mayor is an extreme right-winger and asks Southwark Cathedral to host a similar event at which Jean-Marie le Pen and Jorg Haider have been invited to speak. Would the Cathedral be so smug about its open pulpit policy then?
Nobody's beyond redeemption but it must be preceded by repentance and there's not much sign of that from Mr Adams.