February 11, 2016
Why did Gerry Adams collect “I love Shrek” and his other tweets in a new book?
by Julia Fleischaker
The announcement that Gerry Adams, Irish politician and leader of Sinn Féin, had published a book of collected tweets was met with some delight, some confusion, and some questions.
I gotta a loofah 2day. Mar brontannas. pic.twitter.com/NRrdq03yut
— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) January 30, 2016
My Little Book of Tweets is sold alongside pins, jackets, and commemorative badges at Sinn Féin’s online shop. Per the book’s product description:
Gerry Adams’ tweets have been described as bizarre, weird and as part of a clever strategy. This compact book is a compilation of tweets selected by the man himself. Gerry Adams is a well known public figure and his tweets range across the political and the personal, the serious and the humorous, often featuring rubber ducks and teddy bears! This little books shows the lighter side of his personality and allows the reader some insight into his private life. The inevitable ‘selfies’ are included showing that many years experience of politics have taught him not to take himself too seriously!
Indeed, The Irish Examiner took a look at the book and wondered, “How on earth do you make sense of the very, very strange things Mr. Adams posts on Twitter?” For example:
The yokes on me! pic.twitter.com/nGJPHmnj8t — Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) February 7, 2016
As with everything done by politicians, a seemingly innocuous, if slightly weird, book of tweets can’t wholly be separated from political aims. The New Yorker‘s Mark O’Connell considered the interplay:
The man we encounter in these more widely shared and discussed tweets is a studiously whimsical figure, likelier to be found holding forth on his collection of rubber ducks and Teddy bears—or putting out a general inquiry as to the height of Elvis Presley, or sharing photos of some cupcakes he’s just whipped up, decorated with the faces of puppies—than blasting out hundred-and-forty-character polemics about the necessity and justice of a united Ireland.
After running down some of Adams’s tweets about bathtime (there are many), O’Connell writes:
If you encounter the book, as I did, fresh from a re-reading of ‘Where The Bodies Are Buried’—Patrick Radden Keefe’s 2015 New Yorker piece about the murder of McConville, in which a number of former I.R.A. volunteers claim that Adams ordered her killing—you might be inclined to read his commitment to keeping the public briefed on his ablutions as a haphazardly staged psychodrama of guilt and purification.
The book came out just three weeks before Ireland’s general election, and as McConnell notes, Sinn Féin is popular but “there is a sense that his past, whatever version of it you happen to believe, is a deal-breaker for many Irish voters who might otherwise be aligned with his party’s policies.”
Will we ever know if Gerry Adams really loves bath time, or truly feels a “childlike sadness at the dwindling of lollipops?” As O’Connell concludes, “these questions must now be added to the many whose answers we may never know.”
Julia Fleischaker is a former director of marketing and publicity at Melville House.