LAST month, BBC Northern Ireland ran an hour-long Spotlight documentary on allegations by Mairia Cahill, great-niece of Provisional IRA founder Joe Cahill, that a senior IRA man had abused and raped her in 1997, when she was 16 years old. She described how leading Sinn Féin figures hauled her up before a “kangaroo court”, where they brought her face to face with her alleged abuser and sat back as he “tore strips off me”.
The case is toxic for Sinn Féin because among those to whom she told her story at the time was Gerry Adams, its president. He and his colleagues are accused of behaving like the Irish Catholic Church, sending the alleged abuser to another part of Ireland while ordering the alleged victim not to go to the police. But fear not, Gerry! As the Irish journalist Ed Moloney has put it: "The sun rises each morning and sets each evening and with the same certainty whenever Gerry Adams is in trouble Roy Greenslade can be relied upon to come riding to the rescue.”
A woman’s account of abuse
Greenslade, the Guardian’s chief media pundit, is a devoted Sinn Féin fanboy who has never written a critical word about Adams. Sure enough, on 28 October he attacked the BBC for being “overly one-sided” because it hadn’t mentioned that Cahill was briefly a member of a tiny anti-IRA republican group years after the alleged rape. The implication seemed to be that a woman’s account of abuse and a cover-up must be judged by her politics.
The Guardian’s code of conduct states: "It is always necessary to declare an interest when the journalist is writing about something with which he or she has a significant connection.” While Greenslade blasted the BBC for withholding “vital information”, he made no mention of his own connections. On 3 November he returned to the alleged rape, complaining that Adams had been “demonised”. After protests from journalists across the Irish political spectrum about his previous effort, Greenslime did at last admit an interest: "I have written in the past for the Sinn Féin newspaper.”
“Neutrality, impartiality and objectivity are bogus”
He is too modest. Besides writing pseudonymously for An Phoblacht when it was the Provisional IRA’s propaganda sheet, he also spoke at the 2011 Sinn Féin conference, and stood surety for IRA man John Downey, who was accused of carrying out the Hyde Park bombing of 1982 which killed four soldiers and seven horses. (Downey’s murder trial collapsed earlier this year because of a letter sent to him previously by police promising that he wouldn’t be prosecuted.) When the Guardian’s Ireland correspondent Henry McDonald missed the 2011 Sinn Féin conference, Greenslime whispered to Guardian executives that his absence was proof of McDonald’s supposed anti-republican bias. In fact, the reason for McDonald’s absence was that his mother was dying.
In March this year Greenslade told the Irish Post that “neutrality, impartiality and objectivity are bogus”, and admitted that “for a long period, during the war [in Northern Ireland], I was not transparent”. It seems he still isn’t.