In his new memoir, Surrender: 40 Songs, One Story, U2-frontman Bono regales a story about the Provisional IRA, who he claimed had set their sights on him and his family because of his open denouncement of armed Irish Republicanism. The Belfast Telegraph summed it up as such:
Bono recalled Mr Adams saying he "stinks" after it was perceived that "U2's opposition to paramilitaries (of all kinds) had cost the IRA valuable fundraising in the US".
Bono, who spoke for the first time about his memoir last night at The Times and The Sunday Times Cheltenham Literature Festival, writes, however, that he was told by special branch officers that his wife, formerly Ali Stewart, was the more likely target.
"I still take that badly," he writes.
He also mentions a discovery in the 1990s that a "famous gangland leader in Dublin had been planning to kidnap [his daughters], that [the gangster's] people had been casing our houses for several months and developed an elaborate plan".
The "Mr Adams" in question is, of course, Gerry Adams. The former leader of the Irish political party Sinn Féin, Adam is perhaps more famously known as the guy who's spent the last 50 years denying that he was ever the commander of the IRA during the Troubles, despite the fact that pretty much the entire world has accepted this claim as an open secret at this point. After spending the 80s having his voice banned on broadcast by Margaret Thatcher, Adams ultimately played a significant diplomatic role during the Northern Irish Peace Process, but has continued to shrug off claims that he was the mastermind of the IRA as recently as 2014, when he was detained by police during an investigation long-unresolved IRA murder. Even then, Adams cheerily cooperated with the authorities, all while denying that he was ever personally involved in the IRA.
Upon hearing the news about Bono, however, Adams sang a different tune. In a message to a local Belfast newspaper, Adams said:
I understand from press reports that [Bono] says his wife Ali and he were targets for the IRA. That's news to me.
That's some … interesting phrasing, for a man who has historically been quite careful with his words (impressively or frustratingly so, depending who you ask). Yet Adams went on, saying that Bono's criticisms of the IRA at the time were indeed "shrill, ill-informed and unhelpful," before adding:
You echoed the Irish establishment line. It was the wrong line for decades. A failure of governance and the abandonment of responsibility to lead a process of peace and justice.
Thankfully that changed. But it took a long time. Despite this some of us got through it all. With or without you.
Did…did Gerry Adams just finally acknowledge being in charge of the IRA, just to make a U2 joke? Truly, what a time to be alive.
Bono's claims the IRA targeted the U2 frontman is 'news to me', says Gerry Adams [Amy Cochrane / Belfast Telegraph]