11/14/2009 09:46 PM

Sometimes the man does bite the dog and something extraordinary happens in journalism. It just has in Ireland.

"....the achievement of the Sinn Fein-IRA leaders, in both wooing their movement away from violence, and then largely disarming it (is) not merely astounding, but unprecedented in its counter-historical originality.

"Indeed, I am still quite unable to understand it, though I accept that this intellectual failure is entirely mine. All I can do, in my dumb incomprehension, is to acknowledge that Adams-McGuinness had the courage, the determination and the persuasive powers to make real history."

The above was written for Saturday's Irish Independent by arch Sinn Fein critic Kevin Myers, who for over 20 years or so was a vituperative and nasty critic of Sinn Fein and its leadership. During that time he was a highly influential columnist with The Irish Times until signing up for its rival the Irish Independent a few years ago.

Now he has repented his former ways and is holding out the Sinn Fein leadership as the model for what can be achieved in Ireland today, despite the current terrible times there.

This is akin to Sean Hannity announcing he's a liberal or Rush Limbaugh praising Barack Obama. It is that big a game changer.

Myers was one of a key group of anti Sinn Fein writers who throughout The Troubles demonized, criticized and tried every way possible to cast the Sinn Fein leadership as bloodthirsty, ferocious and utterly uninterested in peace.

They became known as revisionists and anyone, including Irish Americans who thought otherwise were equally brain dead and brainwashed according to Myers and company. I personally felt the lash of Myers criticism on more than one occasion.

Myers also now sees what Sinn Fein leadership did as a model for what can be achieved in the dire times that exist in Ireland today.

" I have never used the Adams-McGuinness leadership as an example of how things can be done, and perhaps for obvious reasons. But as the Irish Republic slides to economic and social perdition, what they achieved within the Sinn Fein-IRA family stands out even more starkly as a perfect model of vision and courage."

Myers also accepts he was wrong about the prospect of powersharing eventually succeeding as part of the Good Friday Agreement.

"Now, I confess that I never thought the Sinn Fein-IRA family and the DUP family would ever accommodate one another, not least because I thought the former would never disarm, and the latter were too bigoted. I was wrong, of course; but many people have been wrong in the sorry history with which we are burdened."

Lordy, this is a little like a show trial where the accused recants all his previous positions. Yet, Myers has not been coerced to do so and has shown more than a drop of courage. He is also right, if the brave vision that Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams carried to fruition against all the odds could be matched by Ireland's political leaders today then the ship of state might be steered out of the turbulent waters it is currently in.

Sadly, unlike Myers, there are still many revisionists hiding in the jungles like that World War Two Japanese soldier who only reappeared decades later to find out the war was over.

It is hard to admit you got it wrong but Myers has shown undeniable courage in doing so. Hopefully his fellow travelers will now commence their own long journey towards the truth of the matter.