Our body politic must am­pu­tate help­ing hand that sus­tains Sinn Fein

Eoghan Har­ris

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - - Analysis - Har­ris

LAST Sun­day, a man stopped me in the Peo­ple’s Park, Dun Laoghaire, and said, “If it wasn’t for the

Sun­day In­de­pen­dent, they’d have it all their own way.”

He didn’t have to say who ‘they’ were. Like so many in Mid­dle Ireland, he is watch­ing Sinn Fein’s ram­pant march through the Ir­ish body politic with in­creas­ing alarm.

How­ever, he told me he was both­ered less by Sinn Fein’s blitzkrieg than the two ma­jor par­ties’ fail­ure to mount a counter-at­tack.

But no more than the Rus­sians could have beaten the Ger­mans in World War II if they half agreed with their fa­nat­i­cal foes, how can Of­fi­cial Ireland beat Sinn Fein when it half shares the same ide­ol­ogy?

In re­cent weeks, cen­trist par­ties were com­plicit in three Sinn Fein stunts: pay­ing lip ser­vice to the lu­natic cam­paign for a united Ireland, turn­ing up in force at the fu­neral of Martin McGuin­ness, and fail­ing to place the blame for the po­lit­i­cal cri­sis in Northern Ireland firmly on the shoul­ders of Sinn Fein.

RTE and other me­dia out­lets helped Sinn Fein with head­lines about the talks break­ing down. They did not break down.

The Provos broke them down by walk­ing out. Just as they broke them down last De­cem­ber by walk­ing out so as to cre­ate a cri­sis.

Back then, too, we fool­ishly rushed off like a fire brigade to help those who had caused the fire.

Micheal Martin is the only politi­cian with the bot­tle to brace Sinn Fein. Last week, he told Pat Kenny that Sinn Fein bore the blame for the cur­rent break­down. Full stop.

But Martin is al­most alone. Like Trump, Sinn Fein tells us what it has in store for us. But still we don’t want to be­lieve.

Let me spell it out. Sinn Fein has a new strat­egy. To cause con­stant trou­ble in Northern Ireland, pur­sue pop­ulist poli­cies in the Repub­lic, and de­pend on RTE/BBC not to dig deep.

Cen­trist po­lit­i­cal par­ties could start to see off Sinn Fein to­mor­row by re­ject­ing Sinn Fein’s pro­pos­als to set up an all-party com­mit­tee on Ir­ish unity.

This would hurt Sinn Fein badly be­cause any such ‘unity’ com­mit­tee is sim­ply a sly ver­sion of a pan­na­tion­al­ist front.

A pan-na­tion­al­ist front is Sinn Fein’s ma­jor aim be­cause it both raises ten­sions in Northern Ireland and se­duces cen­trist par­ties to get into bed with Sinn Fein only to rise with fleas.

But what is the point of a pan-na­tion­al­ist front? Where is the need to con­front the com­bined forces of union­ism when union­ism it­self is di­vided?

When will the green fac­tions of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael face the fact that Ro­man Catholics in Northern Ireland are no longer re­pressed, that the DUP has no de­signs on de­stroy­ing the Ir­ish Repub­lic and that the only dan­ger to our demo­cratic repub­lic is the cult of Sinn Fein and the se­cret ca­bal of fa­nat­ics who di­rect it?

Cen­trist par­ties can’t fight Sinn Fein while they sub­scribe to Sinn Fein shib­bo­leths, or al­low them­selves to be sucked into Sinn Fein pro­pa­ganda stunts like McGuin­ness’s stage­m­an­aged fu­neral.

Pres­i­dent Hig­gins should not have is­sued that soft, vac­u­ous state­ment that made no men­tion of McGuin­ness’s vic­tims.

The Ceann Comhairle should not have flown the Tri­colour at half mast, a craven con­ces­sion that would have dis­gusted Ea­mon de Valera.

The Pres­i­dent and Ceann Comhairle were act­ing in ac­cor­dance with the false nar­ra­tive that McGuin­ness was a free­dom fighter turned states­man.

But McGuin­ness gave up the gun only un­der duress. And he never stopped try­ing to sub­vert the Ir­ish Repub­lic.

Far from chang­ing, he ex­pe­ri­enced no epiphany of em­pa­thy with his vic­tims and re­fused to ex­press re­morse to the end.

Even as late as 2001, McGuin­ness was brazenly de­fend­ing IRA atroc­i­ties. Asked by the BBC about the IRA bomb that killed 11 peo­ple in En­niskillen he said this: “I felt ab­so­lutely gut­ted by it. I felt this would be dam­ag­ing to our strat­egy in try­ing to build Sinn Fein as a po­lit­i­cal party.” (My ital­ics.)

He was gut­ted. Not gut­ted about the bomb or the bod­ies. Only gut­ted about the po­lit­i­cal dam­age it did to Sinn Fein.

Again, only four years ago, in 2013, chal­lenged at an Ox­ford Union de­bate to con­demn the mur­der of Patsy Gille­spie, he flatly re­fused.

But it’s not just RTE which ped­dles the war­rior­turned-states­man trope. BBC Northern Ireland is an­other peace pro­ces­sor at any price.

Last week’s Spot­light could hardly have been softer. Here’s a syn­op­sis of how it came across.

Martin McGuin­ness was brought into be­ing by Bri­tish re­pres­sion. B-Spe­cials beat up Derry. Catholics. Para­troop­ers shot Derry Catholics.

Young Martin saw the only an­swer was to bring about a united Ireland where Catholics would be free. By force.

He used force with fe­roc­ity. And then he stopped. Spot­light was not sure why. No look into his links with MI6. Or into why the IRA leaked like a sieve.

Bal­ance? Kath­leen Gille­spie and a few oth­ers were brought on to pro­vide nom­i­nal bal­ance. Far too late to make any im­pact.

Bal­ance? Not one word about the Civil Rights Move­ment, the Sun­ning­dale Agree­ment, John Hume or Sea­mus Mal­lon. Like watch­ing RTE.

How does it help peace to ped­dle lies of omis­sion about McGuin­ness? The big­gest lie be­ing about his al­leged ‘jour­ney’ from gun­man to states­man.

There was no jour­ney. McGuin­ness was forced to stop shoot­ing and start talk­ing. But he never said sorry to his vic­tims, and he never changed his strat­egy of vic­tory for Sinn Fein.

Time for Of­fi­cial Ireland to wake up to Sinn Fein’s strat­egy of po­lit­i­cal sub­ver­sion in the Repub­lic.

Time the cen­trist par­ties com­mis­sioned an in­de­pen­dent study of how RTE in­dulges Sinn Fein spokes­peo­ple.

Time, above all, for the Repub­lic to stop send­ing its For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter to put out Northern fires that Sinn Fein started.

Sinn Fein broke the Ex­ec­u­tive. Twice. So why don’t we tell them to go and fix it? Why in­dulge these delin­quents?

Cer­tainly any in­dul­gence is not likely to be Char­lie Flana­gan’s fault. Flana­gan gets on well with Northern Protes­tants and is scep­ti­cal of Sinn Fein and its works.

But it’s doubt­ful whether Flana­gan can make any head­way un­less the De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs has changed its his­tor­i­cal cul­ture.

The DFA has al­ways pur­sued a pol­icy that if not nakedly pan-na­tion­al­ist cer­tainly holds firmly on to the han­dle of the pan-na­tion­al­ist pan.

Luck­ily, there are some jour­nal­ists out­side the Sun­day In­de­pen­dent who are not fooled by Sinn Fein’s strat­egy. Last week, in the Ir­ish Times, Stephen Collins laid it on the line.

“If Sinn Fein makes it clear in the next few weeks that it is not pre­pared to en­gage with the in­sti­tu­tions es­tab­lished in 1998, the Govern­ment in Dublin will need to take a long, hard look at the strat­egy it has been fol­low­ing for more than two decades.”

Collins means the strat­egy of hold­ing Sinn Fein’s hand at ev­ery stage. Time now for an am­pu­ta­tion. The proper al­ter­na­tive to a pan­na­tion­al­ist front is a pan­demo­cratic front.

‘Like Trump, Sinn Fein tells us what it has in store for us. But still we don’t want to be­lieve’

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