Gerry Adams and MLK

In a (month-old) interview with Gerry Adams, Johann Hari emphasises the similarity between Republican movements in Ireland and a cross-Atlantic counterpart:


Over the next few years, Catholics in Northern Ireland – stirred by the black civil rights movement in the US, and the dream of Martin Luther King – started to peacefully organise to demand equality…. “There was a sense of naiveté, of innocence almost, a feeling that the demands we were making were so reasonable that all we had to do was kick up a row and the establishment would give in,” he says. But the civil rights marches were met with extraordinary ferocity. Protestant mobs attacked the demonstrators, and then the RUC swooped in to smash them up.

Following this line, the divergent outcomes for the two movements become a case study of the snowball effect of political choices. Also of the distortions of hindsight, which tends to elide the violent parts of the US civil rights movement, and the peaceful ends of Irish republicanism.

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