Ever since Gerry Adams opened a Twitter account and began posting his thoughts, the Irish media has flitted between hysterical speculation and haughty disdain at the Sinn Fein leader’s cryptic references to the people, or is it stuffed animals (?), in his life.
Take this from the Daily Mail (never a friend of the Sinn Fein leader of course):
…..in the two weeks since Gerry Adams joined Twitter, the Sinn Féin TD and former MP and MLA has developed an extreme case of TMI – too much information. His 75 tweets – an average of more than five a day – have a collective embarrassment factor that makes MI6’s dossier redundant………His dramatis personae includes his favourite teddy bear, Ted; a Shinner called Lightbulb who is a terrible driver; and a trusted aide called RG.
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has been criticised for making flippant statements on the social network Twitter about rubber ducks and teddy bears.
Adams who has only recently joined Twitter has been making a series of bizarre comments about ‘Tom and Ted’ to almost 13,000 followers.
His tweets under the account @GerryAdamsSF include:
“There is no Teddy Bear like ur own Teddy Bear’.
The BBC in Belfast even went so far as to screen a five minute television discussion with someone presented as a “social media expert” to analyse the psychology of Adams’ disclosures about those closest to him in life.
If you can bear to watch through this drivel, it’s here.
Adams himself, doubtless realising he was dealing with a pack of nincompoops, decided to lay it on thick and occasionally posted links to pictures of teddy bears which served only to whet the media’s appetite, sending the hysteria into hyperspace.
All fun and games of course except what the episode reveals is how little the Irish media really knows about the Provos, those who lead them and those who orbit them. And this despite Adams’ presence on the paramilitary and political stages for well over forty years. It is actually a reflection of how well the media policed themselves over the years, ensuring that they never got too close to such people!
Adams has really been playing an elaborate joke on the media and they haven’t yet realised it. The clue can be found in this particular Tweet that Adams posted on Feb 17th.
Ted is actually a guy called Ted Howell who has been probably the most important guy in Adams’ life for as long as anyone can remember. He headed up the Provo Think Tank during the early years of the peace process, ran Irish-America for the IRA and SF for years and years and has been Adams’ most trusted adviser and counsellor ever. Before that he led what can only be described as a colorful life travelling in Europe. He is as close to Adams as….well a teddy bear to a child.
Here below, the camera-shy Ted, the real one, was snapped by the resourceful Alan O’Connor as he and Adams conferred during the latter stages of the Good Friday Agreement talks at Stormont. It is one of the few pictures of Ted Howell that I know of.
So who is Tom, also mentioned in this and other tweets? Well the clue is the reference in that tweet of Feb 17th to a Tom who plays the bodhran. Tom Hartley is a bodhran player and in this early photo taken by Chicago snapper P Michael O’Sullivan for his seminal work Patriot Graves, you can clearly recognise him and his bodhran. You do know what a bodhran is, don’t you Irish media? It’s a drum made out of goatskin that you hit with….oh, never mind!
Now Tom Hartley is also a close adviser of the boul’ Adams. Maybe not as close as Ted but still close. So it would be natural for Adams to refer to them together because they were close confidants.
As for RG, now please media! Surely you, who have spent countless hours being spoon-fed, sorry briefed by Adams’ ever-faithful bag-carrier and mobile umbrella stand must have recognised Richard McAuley, the great one’s faithful spin doctor? Or are you now completely a lost cause?