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Interview with Liadh Ní Riada… November 29, 2013

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Culture, Economy, Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, The Left.

…in the Mail conducted by Jason O’Toole. It’s a very interesting piece, well worth a read. Ní Riada is Sinn Féin’s candidate for the European elections next year in the new Europe South constituency.

She had a remarkable, and it would appear challenging, life, her father – Seán Ó Riada, perhaps as the article suggests ‘Ireland’s greatest ever composer and the man who was the single most influential figure behind the revial of Irish traditional music in the sixties’ – died when she was four at the age of 40 and her mother when she was ten. She was brought up by her siblings.

The interview notes that:

Ó Riada’s formation of the groundbreaking Ceoltóirí Chualainn and his score for the movie Mise Éire were the sparks that once again lit a fire under a part of our heritage that was all but dying out. Today, however, Liadh Ní Riada insists that being the daughter of a national treasure has never been a burden. ‘Some people would say: “Is it a burden to be living under the shadow of your father?” ‘I would be of the view that I’m living in his light as opposed to living in his shadow,’ Liadh says. ‘It’s fantastically positive. I’m very proud of being my father’s daughter.’

In relation to her own life and career:

At age 15, Liadh moved to Limerick to live with her aunt and study music there as part of her Leaving Certificate. After school, she worked in a variety of jobs before relocating to Dublin in her early 20s to work in television.


Since then, Liadh has worked in RTÉ and run her own successful company, Red Shoe Productions. But she’s most proud of the fact that she was put on the board to start up TG4 by the then-minister for arts Michael D. Higgins after the two became acquainted when she made a documentary about him and the Earth Summit in Brazil.

She’s highly critical of RTÉ

As an independent producer, Liadh says she’s less than impressed with the quality of homegrown shows on RTÉ. ‘A lot of the time I think they are inclined to copy a model that’s been done on the BBC. ‘As a station I think it leaves a lot to be desired. It’s missing originality and creativity.’ And she describes it as ‘outrageous’ and ‘obscene’ that taxpayers are funding the high wages of RTÉ stars when the government is imposing austerity on the rest of the nation. ‘You have the likes of Marian Finucane who gets over €400,000 a year for doing a few hours of radio work. She has a team of researchers. And then she goes on about the poor people of Ireland: “How can they afford to live?” And I find that quite obscene.’


Liadh was inspired to move into politics by her first husband Fiachra Ó hAodha. ‘He had a strong social conscience and a sense of injustice. He always stood up for the underdog and this would have influenced me in many ways.’ Liadh was 27 and at a wedding back home in Cúil Aodha when she first met 22-year-old Fiachra. The couple married two years later. Tragically, Fiachra was suffering from skin cancer and passed away just ten moths after the wedding. ‘He died suddenly two months before our first wedding anniversary from a brain haemorrhage as a result of malignant melanoma. That was much more traumatic than the death of my parents really.

She married again and now has three children. In relation to the political aspect of her life:

She has been chosen as Sinn Féin’s candidate for the new Europe South constituency which is expected to include most of Munster and part of south Leinster. Currently Sinn Féin’s Irish language development officer, Liadh says that she fully supports party leader Gerry Adams. As well as stating that she believes Adams’ declaration that he was not in the IRA — which most people find incredulous — Liadh also says that she believes the Sinn Féin leader had nothing to do with the brutal murder of Jean McConville, despite the fact he has been accused of ordering her death by former IRA members Bernard Hughes and Dolours Price.

She argues:

‘It’s very easy to throw accusations and I don’t see any grounding or any basis for that and obviously I support Gerry 100 per cent. ‘It’s terribly unfair that they focus on these things with no basis and yet they don’t focus on all the good work he’s done for the Good Friday peace process. ‘It’s a terribly unbalanced, prejudiced view, which I think is completely without basis.’ She also doesn’t buy into the view that Adams has been damaged by the revelations about how he didn’t report his brother Liam to the police for sexually abusing his daughter Áine for some years after he first became aware of it. Liadh says that nobody ‘in their right mind would be supportive of any abuse or cover up’. She adds: ‘As far as I know, he was acting on his niece’s best interests. ‘It’s a family private matter and again putting it out in the public like that I think it’s again distracting from some of the good works that Gerry does. ‘He consistently tops the polls. He has 100 per cent support from the party. So it’s a no-brainer in that sense for me.’

And she continues:

… that she isn’t trying to get elected as an MEP to jump on the gravy train in Europe — pointing out that if elected she will only take the average industrial wage, with the rest of her salary going back to fund the party’s machine. ‘I’m not sure how much of a difference I can make in Europe but I’ll give it a damn good shot.’

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1. CL - November 29, 2013

Just for the record: Contrary to British propaganda it is highly unlikely that Jomo Kenyatta was ever a member of the Mau Mau.

Bob Smiles - November 29, 2013

Even more stupid, the whiole Gerry was acting in Aine’s best interests – I have voted SF and think their overall view is sound, but Jesus !

CL - November 29, 2013

My comment on Kenyatta is not meant sarcastically

EamonnCork - November 30, 2013

Plus 1 to Bob on Liadh Ni Riada’s comments re the Liam Adams abuse case. That’s bringing blind political loyalty to a new extreme. If she had nothing better than that to say about it she would have been better off with ‘no comment.’

2. Mick Hall - November 30, 2013

No one was a member of the Mau Mau, it was a derogatory term used by the British to describe those who opposed British rule in Kenya and Kenyatta certainly fell into that group. The armed Kenyan resistance group was the Kenya Land and Freedom Army (KLFA), we should be mindful when we use the imperialist terminology to describe freedom fighters.

As to Gerry Adams, it is perfectly understandable why he denies membership of the IRA, why he failed to refuse to answer this question when it was first put to him is another matter, and I bet he rues the day.

However most people know the truth of the matter and understand the type of predicament he was in back then, and it’s why his denial down the years has not harmed him politically, even though the overwhelming majority of Irish and British people know it is total bullshit.

However whenever I hear a budding politician trying to turn black into white, I do wonder if he/she is fit for the task. after all the last thing we need is more politicians who are uneconomical with the truth, we are already knee deep in them.

dmfod - November 30, 2013

Is it not the case Adams could still technically be done for being in the IRA if he admitted it down here?

shea - November 30, 2013

yes, seamus kearney got done today for the shooting of an ruc man in 87.

IRA was a secret ogranisation so on the one hand by their rules your not meant to say anything and its also an illegal organisation still so on the other hand your probably better of yada yada and all that.

obviously being a member of the IRA is a crime and some people will be disgusted that its not delt with but others have a different view and may be motivated by that view, not an explanation that some people will like but there you go.

Adams is the first republican leader to deal with 24/7 media, yes his denials look stupid but look at what else is not going on, 1000′s of people went through the provo’s bar people who went to jail or a few informers how many have stepped forward to off load, tell their stories, publish, get a hollywood movie made or what ever. there was brian feenys book about bradley but in general Its not happening, If everyone was speaking frankly about the past and adams remained tight lipped that would look stupid but because the camera is mainly focused on adams it looks out of context.

dmfod - November 30, 2013

Yeah I thought so. It annoys me the way everyone disingenuously ignores that elephant in the room. It was the same with Martin McGuinness during the Presidential election, all this faux bafflement that he wouldn’t incriminate himself. Whatever else about them neither of them are eejits.

Mark P - November 30, 2013

When you can get the leader of a major party to lie on television or on the radio, about something everyone knows he’s lying about, and you can make him do it on demand, of course you make him do it over and over again. Particularly when the media are overwhelmingly hostile to the party in question, but not only then. Whining about it is stupid: SF choose to send that particular figure out, knowing he will be asked about it, knowing he will lie and knowing he will be seen to be a liar. That’s their call.

CL - November 30, 2013

Kenyatta was a moderate nationalist. The white settler view of him as a violent militant is about as accurate as those who view Gerry Adams as the devil incarnate.
The Mau Mau have been vilified in imperial propaganda as savages and terrorists but more recently these freedom fighters have received some vindication.
“The British government recognises that Kenyans were subject to torture”-William Hague.

3. Brian Hanley - November 30, 2013

The IRA was an illegal organization when Moss Twomey was chief of staff, and when Cathal Goulding and Sean MacStoifain were C/S, yet all were publicly identified as IRA leaders. Different circumstances I know, but the impression I get from conversations with republicans is not that they think Adams should incriminate himself but that his denial means that he is presenting himself as someone who was working for peace since 1969.

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2013

I wonder though how many people sought to see Goulding, Twomey or even MacStiofain back in prison, I suspect Adams is regarded as evil incarnate – not least because his profile is incomparably higher politically and otherwise – by a considerable cohort who wouldn’t have any problem with that outcome and would use anything they could to see it come about. Our pal on the CLR in comments The Rambler is perhaps evidence of that mindset.

Jack Jameson - November 30, 2013

Adams has more dedicated enemies than Goulding et al who would enjoy his downfall (whatever the consequences) either through deep-rooted malice or because it might hinder or damage SF’s growth, the latter being something the establishment didn’t really see happening in previous times.

shea - November 30, 2013

probably is pissing some off, was watching that tv3 program of the shinners during the week, Anthony Mcintyre looked like he was hitting his head against a brick wall when talking about it. yeah its shit but its not happening in isolation. Would say adams will be a bit of a head scratcher for historians in the future.

4. Mick Hall - November 30, 2013

Adams denial throws up more questions than it answers, firstly what kind of immunity from prosecution were the PRM leadership given when they entered into negotiations with the UK state apparatus and when did it kick in?

Decommissioning alone means they must have had something in place, otherwise at some later date those Provos who arranged it on the ground could been arrested for illegal possession of arms.

The problem with secret clauses on immunity, they rarely go down with the troops, for if the leadership gained a higher degree of immunity why not the rank and file.

What we are seeing now is ‘certain’ volunteers, John Downey is one, who carried out armed actions long before the cutoff point agreed upon in the GFA etc, being arrested and charged with these ‘offenses.’

Whether this is a reminder to Sinn Fein about who is in charge in the north, or something else, time alone will tell. But Adams has chosen to play the long game and he knows better than most what the consequences of admitting IRA membership would be, both personally and to his strategic plan for SF.

As I send at the top of this post, it all depends on the type of immunity the SF leadership were gifted by perfidious albion?

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2013

One significant issue is the fact of a Tory led government in the UK. There’s been a rhetorical and actual fraying around the edges of the GFA/BA and I wonder if your point about a ‘reminder’ is very close to the truth.

5. A clean break ... - November 30, 2013

“‘As far as I know, he was acting on his niece’s best interests. ‘It’s a family private family matter …”

Raping your 4 year old daughter is NOT a private family matter. Your brother raping your 4 year old niece is NOT a private family matter. It’s a matter for the public legal process.

And the idea that Adams, or the Beard as she calls him, acted in Aine’s best interest at ANY time is frankly just laughable. By repeatedly attempting to cover up the abuse, Adams did what Adams always does … Adams acted in his own best interests, full stop.

It really makes me sick that a woman would take that position on child abuse in order to further her own career. Is an outside shot at an MEP gig really worth that? Christ, what depths would you have to stoop to secure a Dail nomination from SF?

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2013

I’d recommend anyone who hasn’t done so and wants some handle on this to read the transcript of Adam’s testimony in the case. That said given the response of the RUC initially to her and the nature of the public legal process in the 1980s and 1990s I don’t know if it’s quite as simple a situation of entering such a legal process then. What happened subsequently is of course a different issue.

EamonnCork - November 30, 2013

I’d agree there were complexities to it. But to describe it as a ‘private family matter’ is ludicrous and looks like an uncritical piece of leader worship at the very least. And it’s condescending to suggest that Gerry was thinking solely of Aine’s good when there was obviously more to it than that and her family think otherwise.
And I say this as someone who doesn’t think the man is ‘evil incarnate.’ There were obviously family dynamics at work here as well as political ones. But it’s stretching it a bit to give him a complete clean slate. The episode is not to his credit. You can think that without being part of some establishment conspiracy against Sinn Fein. The confusion in the case means that pronouncing his absolute innocence is probably as unwise as insisting on his absolute guilt. If it’s such a ‘private family matter’ why bother going on about the best interests of the party leader’s niece?

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2013

I’d definitely not give him a clean slate. That transcript should be deeply troubling for anyone who has read it. And that’s why I’d also say that what happened subsequently is a different issue. Just that in the context of the adversarial relationship (to put it at its mildest) between the Republican movement and the ‘public legal process’ it’s hard to take seriously the contention that that was a genuinely feasible option in 1987 and arguably well into the peace process.

A clean break ... - December 1, 2013

“Leader worship” is a very good way of putting it, she’d sound slightly pathetic if the whole affair wasn’t so sinister.

The circling of SF wagons continues apace with Pearse Doherty’s bizarre “unfounded and untrue” response to other allegations of rape and abuse being dealt with inside the republican tent. Which is to say, hushed up.

TBH it’s bizarre that SF would have such a blind-spot on this issue, given the very public and ongoing calling to account that’s occurred in recent years for other historical sex crimes against children & women. It’s almost as if they’ve internalized some of the most distasteful aspects of 1950s public morality, and regurgitated that as the party orthodoxy.

shea - November 30, 2013

how many cases of child sexual abuse in families that are going or have gone through the courts relate to recent matters? i don’t think its alot. The cases that get out into the public any way some time would appear to have past. The right thing to do is pick up the phone and call the gaurds but it would appear not to be the normal thing, maybe thats what she means about a family matter, the process of this stuff coming to a head in a family.

EamonnCork - November 30, 2013

I know what you’re saying Shea. And from my knowledge of this stuff, through court cases and knowing people who’ve been involved in them, there is often a taking of sides within families even after someone has been proved guilty. The situation is so horrible there will always be people who don’t want to believe it. I would suspect that Gerry Adams’ behaviour had more to do with family rather than political considerations.
But these are things we can’t know which is why I think a political candidate is out of order in pronouncing on them in a manner which makes it appear that what she’s interested in doing is whitewashing the party leader. It’s the whole ‘this is a family thing, nothing to do with outsiders’ which enabled abusers to get away for so many years in the first place.

shea - November 30, 2013

fair point, the shinners are defensive of adam so get where your coming from on trying to white wash him. maybe the best way to leave it as a family matter was for her to say ‘no comment’ and leave it at that.

Mark P - November 30, 2013

But she didn’t, which is repulsive.

shea - November 30, 2013

the question that illicit ed the response may have some bearing as well.

Mark P - November 30, 2013

It’s a question every SF candidate should know they are going to face.

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2013

That’s something that struck me too MarkP, if they’re not cued up with some sort of response at this stage…

6. Mick Hall - November 30, 2013


I am not sure as far as the ‘Irish problem’ is concerned (if I may use those words) whether having a tory government or a labour one makes much difference. It seems to me the UK state has been playing a long game there for some time, and far to little of this strategy is inputted by the politicians (of either party)

If the Tories had won the 1997 election I doubt there would have been much difference, there would still have been a GFA.

WorldbyStorm - November 30, 2013

Hmmm… perhaps. I wonder though if one fundamental issue would have been the inability of the Tory party to oversee the changes in policing etc, or jettisoning certain aspects of British rule. Possibly it’s as well that experiement was never put to the test.

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