Des Long’s decision to call out Gerry Adams for lying about his membership of the IRA and revealing that he was at one point not just a member of the Army Council but its Chairman, comes at a bad time for the retired SF leader, but is good news for the BBC and for one of the production team involved in the TV series marking the 50th anniversary of the start of the Troubles.
Early next year, Adams’ legal team, headed by feared litigator Paul Tweed, will launch a libel action in the Dublin courts against BBC’s Spotlight current affairs programme and reporter Jennifer O’Leary, over a claim that Adams’ was defamed during a programme examining the assassination of IRA activist turned RUC Special Branch spy, Denis Donaldson.
Adams’ long time personal lawyer, the late Paddy McGrory always advised Adams never to sue over claims involving his alleged membership of the IRA on the grounds that there was too much evidence to the contrary and on the record, not least publicly available British documents dealing with the 1972 IRA ceasefire.
Paddy’s fear was that Adams would, as the alleged injured party, have to give evidence from the witness stand, his denials of IRA membership wouldn’t stand scrutiny and he would be judged a liar about everything else by most juries.
Now that a senior, former comrade has blown the whistle on him, Gerry could do worse than recall his old advisor’s sagacity.
As worrying for Adams is the possibility that Des Long’s candor will encourage others to follow suit.