Wherever Tom ‘Slab’ Murphy is these days, either nearing the end of his prison term or maybe even back in South Armagh, I’d love to be a fly on the wall when he hears about this story in the Drogheda Life newspaper.
‘Slab’ was, of course, jailed for embezzling the Irish Inland Revenue by avoiding tax payments on income that was in large measure earned by the very methods that his old mucker Gerry Adams is now condemning, i.e. by smuggling diesel back and forth across the South Armagh border.
(Last February, the former IRA Chief of Staff was sentenced to eighteen months jail, which, with remission, must mean that he is due for release soon, if he has not already been freed. His first encounter with Gerry promises to be an interesting event.)
When the war was raging, ‘Slab’ would help the IRA out financially from time to time, loaning his own money for operations that helped preserve the Provos’ negotiating strength leading up to, and during the peace process. Smuggling diesel played its part in all of that, in no small measure propelling Gerry and his colleagues into conventional politics and a measure of respectability.
But Ireland, remember, is the land where they invented the phrase: ‘eaten bread is soon forgotten’.
These days, Gerry Adams is, through his minions, letting it be known that he will quit the SF leadership in the autumn and make way for La McDonald to take the helm. It smacks of a ploy, to my ever suspicious mind.
Cleansing Sinn Fein of Adams’ leadership will make it easier for either Fianna Fail or Fine Gael to enter a coalition government with Sinn Fein (SF seem to be open to an alliance with either). As long as Gerry, the public face of disappearing Jean McConville, is leader no deal to share power can be made. So step aside for Mary Lou and the problem evaporates.
But there is no mention, at least that I have encountered, that Adams will retire completely from political life by quitting his Dail seat and heading off to a rural retirement in Donegal’s Costa del Provo. Correct me, dear reader, if I am mistaken.
That raises the possibility that he could join an SF/FF or SF/FG government with Mary Lou as the ‘nominal’ leader and himself as a minister/’real’ leader. Not quite the same thing as him being El Caudillo but better than nothing.
Assuming that Stormont will eventually resume operations, such an arrangement – provided FF or FG go along with it (possibly a big ‘if”) – will fulfill Adams’ ambition of seeing Sinn Fein bums on cabinet tables on both sides of the Border, simultaneously, with himself part of the arrangement. That would secure his place in Irish history and who knows, in a few years might even make it feasible for him to make a run for the Park.
I may be wrong, but I just can’t see him allowing Mary Lou to occupy that special spot in history. After all she is just a carpetbagger, a Provo parvenu so to speak.
And in the meantime, it does no harm to distance himself from activities that for a long time kept the IRA in South Armagh going. No matter what ‘Slab’ might think.
Thanks to HM for the tip: