“I love Shrek”: The bizarre tweets of a former Northern Ireland revolutionary

Rubber duckies and republican politics.
Rubber duckies and republican politics.
Image: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton
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Irish parliamentarian Gerry Adams is known for many things, including his association with some of Northern Ireland’s ugliest sectarian violence. But he will also be remembered for his tweets.

The longtime leader of Northern Ireland’s republican party Sinn Fein has one of the strangest Twitter accounts of any statesman in the English-speaking world. A collection of his tweets, entitled My Little Book of Tweets, will be sold (paywall) on Sinn Fein’s website later this month.

Adams joined Twitter in February 2013. His account started as a typical mélange of political PR: news from Sinn Fein, updates from his constituency, jabs at opposing parties.

Within days of his first tweet, there was this:

Followers and the media at first assumed the account was hacked, or possibly that Adams was posting after some kind of head injury. After a few more days of business-as-usual tweets came this update:

For context: This is Ted.

The man whom many blame for the IRA’s long campaign of violence tweets a lot about teddy bears. He also has a large and beloved collection of rubber duckies. He sends out a lot of updates on those.

And his dreams.

Sometimes random song lyrics.

Or movies.

And again with the ducks.

Adams became president of Sinn Fein in 1983, at the height of Northern Ireland’s brutal spell of sectarian violence. The conflict between British loyalists and Irish republicans ultimately claimed some 3,500 lives.

For decades, he has denied that he was a member of the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), even while being investigated for some of its atrocities. His denial has been repeatedly challenged by historians and former IRA members. Adams was also an architect of the 1998 peace agreement that ended the worst of the bloodshed.

His willingness to mix whimsical with sober is jarring. Here’s what he tweeted just days after his 2014 arrest, when he was questioned about the disappearance and murder of Jean McConville, a Belfast mother of 10 killed by the IRA. (Adams was not charged.)

He even seems ready to joke about his famous denial—kind of.