The decision by the UK Supreme Court this morning to rule Gerry Adams’ imprisonment as an internee in 1973 illegal, and by implication that his jail sentence for attempting to escape from Long Kesh was also ultra vires, has some intriguing implications.
Not least of these is that at a stroke Adams may well have lost his qualification to be a member of the Irish Republican Felons Association, popularly called ‘The Felons’ but better known for the drinking club it runs on the Andersonstown Road which was situated within stone throwing distance of the local RUC station.
To lose his membership would be a particularly bitter blow for Gerry Jnr since his father, Gerry Snr, was a co-founder of the Felons along with a fellow republican called Joe Campbell (presumably something Adams Snr did in his spare time when he was not sexually abusing his children).
Danny Morrison wrote an interesting account of the origin of the Felons for The Guardian back in 1999 which you can read here in which he says that initially internees were not qualified to be members since only sentenced IRA members were real felons.
That rule was bent when the current Troubles began and so Gerry Jnr qualified on both grounds, as an ex-internee and as a felon who had served jail time for trying to escape from internment in Long Kesh.
Both qualifications for Felons membership have now been struck out by the UK Supreme Court, the internment order and the subsequent jail sentence. So Gerry Adams is now an ex-felon He could always apply for honorary membership but that doesn’t quite carry the same cachet.
So, what’s an ex-Felon to do? Answers on a postcard to thebrokenelbow.com.