Alex Massie

Rudy Giuliani, the Terrorists’ Worst Enemy?

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Well, not always. From the New York Times, September 29th 1994, less than a month after the declaration of a (temporary as it proved) IRA ceasefire:

Artfully casting off his old role as official outcast, Gerry Adams, the political spokesman for the Irish Republican Army, beamed from the steps of City Hall yesterday as New York politicians vied to be at his side and hail him as honored guest and newborn statesman...

...A relatively small lunch-hour crowd of a few hundred cheered him, but the domestic political value of Mr. Adams's official turnabout was demonstrated by the throng of local politicians who crowded about Mr. Adams. They pressed him to accept three different government proclamations, the Crystal Apple award extended by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani to ranking foreign dignitaries, and a private New York Police Department boat tour of Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

The tall, darkly bearded man from Belfast was officially hailed as an Irish leader to be reckoned with by Mayor Giuliani...

Mr. Adams, the leader of Sinn Fein, the I.R.A.'s political arm, stepped forward happily beneath a City Hall welcoming banner as the Police Department's Emerald Society offered the bagpiped skirl of "Wrap the Green Flag Around Me, Boys."

Expressing "sad and glad appreciation," Mr. Adams thanked the city government for an "unwavering commitment" to economic-boycott pressures on Britain's Northern Irish Government in behalf of the Catholic minority. Then he addressed the British Prime Minister, John Major, as if his voice might carry out beyond the Brooklyn Bridge to London: "It is time, Mr. Major, to go -- to leave our country and to leave us in peace."

He received no shortage of sympathy from a phalanx of politicians led by City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, City Comptroller Alan G. Hevesi and Mayor Giuliani. The Irish group was particularly delighted to hear Mr. Giuliani talk of the North's suffering under an "outside occupation force" -- precisely the characterization resented by the North's Protestant loyalists, who worry that the British might eventually leave Northern Ireland.

Sure, there were domestic political considerations at stake and, yes, there was a - temporary - IRA ceasefire. But at the time Giuliani offered this lavish reception, the IRA had not renounced violence. On the contrary it reserved the right to return to the "armed struggle" any time they saw fit. This first ceasefire - however tough a sell it was to the Army Council - was a temporary measure, not a declaration that the war was over. And sure enough, within 18 months the bombs were going off again.

Plenty of other people were meting Adams then but there's a difference between meeting Adams knowing that realpolitk demands it and greeting him with this sort of enthusiasm - to say nothing of Giuliani's willingness to buy into the IRA's "framing" of the province's history.

Now I don't suggest that this is of enormous relevance to the current presidential campaign, nor that it should necessarily be held against Giuliani. After all, when it came to cosying up to terrorists Hizzoner is hardly the worst offender. But cosy he did and it might as well be remembered that he did so.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

Topics in this articleInternationalirelandterrorism