The Ballad of Tweeting Gerry

There’s quite a bit of weird fun to be had from trawling through Gerry Adams’ Twitter feed. The Sinn Fein leader’s bizarre, often cryptic messages have become a mildly amusing sidebar in the gnarled, often humourless (well, devoid of intentional humour anyway) world of Irish politics.

Just what is going on? Gerry got into a bit of trouble recently when he got all relaxed and watched ‘Django Unchained’ on his sofa. He used the ‘n’ word, called the main character (I assume he meant Django) an ‘uppity Fenian’ and then later tried to explain that he had never personally identified as white. Come to think of it, neither have I, but that just doesn’t stop the haters from judging, does it?

The resulting paroxysm in the tiniest of cups offered a mildly entertaining glimpse into the parallel realities inhabited by the media classes in Dublin. For a less entertaining glimpse, you could look at the homeless figures, then listen to a speech by Enda Kenny or George Hook, but let’s try and keep things light.

Listening to Aine Lawlor on RTE trying to reprimand naughty Gerry for what was clearly the biggest outrage ever perpetrated by anybody in the entire history of humanity brought the art of yuk induction to a new level. Poor Aine actually sounded on the verge of tears as she tried to explain to our home grown beardy Eichmann that for him, as a white man, to use that word must have caused untold suffering and anguish to non-white people all over the globe.

It was as certain as hangovers after a Fianna Fail ‘think-in’ that D4 would seek to blow the incident into hilariously hysterical proportions, but Gerry’s disciples must be silently wishing that, whatever about the leadership, he might give up the Twitter machine for a while, or at least only visit it at weekends.

Since he went online in 2013, the Sinn Fein leader has tweeted about bizarre dreams involving crème eggs, following which he apparently woke up with his beard caked in goo. He has posted enigmatic love notes which appear to suggest an unrequited heart’s desire. Whether that person – whoever they may be – is impressed by his love affair with rubber ducks or the announcement that his beloved teddy bears are in a same sex relationship is anyone’s guess.

Gerry’s tweets have become part urban myth, part anomalous outlier. At a time when we can increasingly predict exactly what any politician, now or at any point in the future, will say in any situation, the tweets represent data which does not compute. Is it all part of some neodadaist joke? Or has the great one finally lost it? Are we witnessing the final chapter in a life less ordinary: the sad, wittering decline into one of Beckett’s tramps, marooned in a nook of social media instead of on some conceptual field?

Tweeting is probably a lot more fun than trying to memorise Sinn Fein’s economic policies, which in fairness have changed so much that even the type of saddo who revels in these things would be challenged. It must be a little galling for Mary Lou, Pearse and the others, though, trying to get the great man to stay off his phone long enough to learn that Personal Tax Bands are not a sub-genre of Prog Rock.

He’d much rather sing, apparently, who wouldn’t? One tweet claimed that, while on his bike one day, Gerry sang ‘Black Velvet Band’ with such gusto that he completely failed to notice he’d just cycled into a field. Kind of makes you relieved that Ireland’s leaders don’t have access to nuclear weapons, doesn’t it? Although, given Enda Kenny’s attitude to anything that isn’t Fine Gael, there’d probably be very few of us around to worry.

Premature senility? Love? Hitting the gargle? Could it be that Gerry’s just fed up?

Now 67, he’s insisting that he’ll lead his party into the next Irish general election. He may well do so. He’s been leader of Sinn Fein since 1983, and in that time has endured a life – whatever your personal opinion about his beliefs and actions – with more violence, controversy, conflict and just plain awfulness in it than ten full seasons of Game of Thrones.

Let’s face it, sometimes you just want to go a bit mental. When reality holds steadfast in its determination to be miserable, sometimes you dream of magically altering the ground rules. You imagine that a few choice, weird words will somehow make all the badness disappear and be replaced by a world of sugar plum fairies and girls with kaleidoscopic eyes.

And I’m not poking fun, not really. My own life hasn’t involved nearly as much struggle or unpleasantness as Gerry’s, but it does get beyond tiresome sometimes. I flatter myself that I know exactly how he feels. Torturing the humourless might be a bit of a blood sport, but it’s occasionally amusing and doesn’t hurt anyone except the humourless.

And you never know, maybe that mysterious love will eventually tweet him back. Now there’d be something to make the Internet go into meltdown.


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