COMHGHAIRDEAS Kneecap as an rath a bhí ar bhur scannán ag Féile Scannán Sundance. 

Last August I travelled over to a studio close to Queen’s University to meet with Kneecap. The three west Belfast lads were busy putting the final touches to their movie which recounts – mostly i nGaeilge – how they were formed. That night they were to do some work with Michael Fassbender but I was there to film a short segment. 

Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap, DJ Próvaí and director Rich Peppiatt all watched and laughed as I stammered my way through several different versions of my lines. That evening Kneecap played a sell-out gig at the West Belfast Féile in the Falls Park.

I haven’t seen the film yet. I am looking forward to it. Kneecap’s music is exuberant and fun. They have a sharp sense of the outrageous, the political and the ironic. The crowd that night in the Park was enthusiastic and we all enjoyed every minute of the performance. 

Gerry Adams with Kneecap

Gerry Adams with Kneecap

Despite criticism from the DUP and others who never have anything positive to say about the Irish language, the reports from the Sundance Film Festival have been amazing. The festival is the most important international film event for independent film makers. Kneecap being screened there was hugely significant. As is now well known the film received widespread critical acclaim at its first night opening, with Variety, the major entertainment trade paper, describing it as: “A triumph... to keep a language alive it must be part of the culture now, and not only  a remnant of bygone eras. Their music has the power to inspire those their age to learn it, to pass it on.”

To add to this success the following day the film was picked up by Sony Picture Classics for distribution across the USA, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Turkey and the Middle East. And then at the end of last week came the news that it had picked up the Audience Award, the first time a non-US film had been selected to take part in that section of the festival.

So well done again to Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap, DJ Próvaí, Rich, Trevor and all of those who helped make Kneecap. The movie will be shown in Ireland later this year. Watch for the ads – agus bígí linn.

Irish government must join South Africa 

MANY thanks and commendations to the government of South Africa for taking the case to the ICJ on behalf of the people of Palestine. 

There was  a widespread welcome for the decision of the International Court of Justice last week ordering Israel to:

·         Refrain from acts under the genocide convention.

·         Prevent and punish the direct and public incitement to genocide.

·         Take measures to ensure humanitarian assistance to civilians.

·         Preserve evidence of genocide and submit a report to the Court. 

·         And submit a report to the ICJ in one month.

While the Court did not call for an immediate ceasefire, the import of its judgement is that a ceasefire is now imperative. The Court ordered that Israel "take all measures within its power to prevent" the killing of Palestinians; causing them "serious bodily or mental harm"; prevent the deliberate inflicting of "conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part". The Court said that "Israel must ensure with immediate effect that its military forces do not commit any of the above-described acts." How do they do that and wage war?

The onus is now on the international community to increase pressure on Israel and its allies to call an immediate ceasefire and to demand that all hostages are released. The ICJ specifically called on Israel to "take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance."

However, within hours the USA, the British and German governments and seven other states had withdrawn funding from the United Nations agency – UNWRA – that is responsible for providing essential services, food and water to the Palestinians. The decision by these states is in response to claims by Israel that 12 UN officials in Gaza – out of 13,000 – were involved in the Hamas attack on October 7. António Guterres, the UN Secretary General, has appealed for the 10 countries to reconsider their decision. Two million Palestinians, already suffering hunger, are to be penalised because of the alleged acts of 12 UN staff.

This week Sinn Féin is to table a motion in the Oireachtas calling on the Irish government to join the South African case at the International Court of Justice. 

Finally, Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill have committed to raising the Israeli genocide against the Palestinian people when they visit Washington in March. Mary Lou and I discussed this issue at a public event in Cabra in her Dublin constituency last Friday evening. I was asked about some calls on the party to boycott the US St Patrick’s visit. I pointed out that those calling on us not to go to the USA are not calling on us to not talk to the British. Sensible people know that dialogue is the only means by which this or any issue of conflict can be resolved. Our bridge into the USA is Irish America. St Patrick’s Day is Ireland’s national day. Boycotting this and denying ourselves the opportunity to advance our struggle, or indeed the struggle of the people of Palestine, would be a mistake.

Sinn Féin disagrees with the USA administration on many issues, particularly foreign policy issues. We have always made that clear. When I met President Clinton in the 1990s I told him the US embargo on Cuba was wrong. I told George W. Bush that his policy on Iraq and Afghanistan was wrong. I remember Martin and I urging Tony Blair not to invade Iraq. We told him it would be the biggest mistake of his leadership. We have a responsibility to raise these issues and Mary Lou and Michelle will be equally forthright with those they meet in March about US support for Israel’s war on the Palestinian people.

People in struggle, particularly people involved in national liberation struggles, understand that your own struggle has to be your primary focus. They will expect you to raise their issues, and we should. They will expect you to stand with them, and we should and will. But they would not expect us to do anything – any more than we would expect them to do anything – which would set back our own struggle or make space for those who are opposed to us. 

A world class visitor centre 

Áras Uí Chonghaile – the James Connolly Visitor Centre on the Falls Road – was formally opened by Uachtarán Michael D Higgins in April 2019. The Áras celebrates the life and times of James Connolly, the key role he played in Irish history, the struggle for freedom and the Labour movement. It is a world class visitor centre exploring the life of Connolly with a unique interactive exhibition, a library of writings by and about Connolly, historical objects relating to Connolly and a year-round programme of engagement with communities, schools and visitors, and a bialann. 


Last week the Áras received the Green Tourism Bronze Award for sustainability and environmentally-friendly practice. That joins the prestigious award from the Royal Society of Ulster Architects that it won two years ago as Building of the Year.

Last week Áras Uí Chonghaile also announced its Clár an Earraigh – a spring programme of debates and discussions for the next three months. It is an excellent programme that includes a lecture on Mike Quill, one of America’s best known and most respect trade union leaders, who as an IRA Volunteer fought in the Civil War before travelling to the USA; Winifred Carney, who was in the GPO during Easter Week 1916; and a talk on the future of the Irish language. Takura Donald Makoni, Policy Officer for the African and Caribbean Support Organisation, will speak on inequity and power in a post-colonial world.

It is an exciting programme, available at See you there.