Eamonn McCann - Gerry Adams should kiss his duck goodbye

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Gerry Adams. Rubber duck in the bath. Teddy-bear in the bed. Plus, he hugs trees. He can count himself lucky rank-and-file Shinners know he’s the president of their party because if they didn’t they’d think he was a terrible eejit altogether.

Wiggling your toes to bobble your duck up and down in the bath might seem a tad on the childish side, but I am sure it’s great fun. And I bet the way Gerry manoeuvres the suds with his flippery feet makes the duck eventually assume the form of a beautiful swan. Until the bubbles burst. As they do.

Refusing to go to bed without your teddy is hardly a mark of maturity either. But teddy bears are not to be sniffed at. Not when they have been used for particular purposes. It could anyway be considered patriotic to snuggle up to a teddy, seeing as how Tyrone man Jimmy Kennedy wrote the teddy bears’ national anthem.

“Beneath the trees where nobody sees they’ll hide and seek as long as they please/Today’s the day the teddy bears have their picnic.” Poetry.

(Jimmy also wrote “Red Sails in the Sunset”, “South of the Border”, “We’re Going to Hang out the Washing on the Siegfried Line”, “The Isle of Capri”, “My Prayer”, “Love is Like a Violin”, “Roll Along Covered Wagon”, “Harbour Lights”, “The Hokey Cokey” and, oh, hundreds, literally, more. That’s right. The “Hokey Cokey”. Not a traditional party-song at all, but the work of a man from Omagh. “Red Sails in the Sunset” was written at dusk on the shorefront at Portstewart. Not many people know these things.)

Hugging trees is a more interesting activity than it’s ever given credit for. “Tree-huggers” first emerged as a political category in the 1960s, when the Chipko movement in the Indian province of Uttar Pradesh took to linking arms around trees which were about to be felled to clear space for agri-business and mining. The tactic for defending traditional forest rights inspired thousands of others across India and beyond. Tree-huggers played a major role in forcing the adoption of more environmentally sensitive strategies for development.

Naturally, those who saw nothing wrong with scything down forests for commercial gain sought to discredit their opposition by turning “tree-hugger” into a term of derisive abuse.

Republicans should be more open about defending Gerry Adams when he’s attacked for his tree-hugging habit.

But he should kiss the duck and cuddle his teddy goodbye. Miriam Lord in the Irish Times has already started referring to him as Gerry Twaddums.

That sort of thing could catch on.