In this morning’s Irish Examiner a letter was headlined ‘SF hypocrisy knows no bounds’ . It rails at Sinn Fein for ‘leading the charge’ against John O’ Donoghue (wasn’t it Labour and Gilmore who did that?) and pointing to their past history as a justification for, pretty much, dismissing anything they might have to say.
I fired off a response as follows:
“In response to her letter in today’s Irish Examiner I’d like to ask Marie Murphy, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael politicians – and others who engage in routine hypocrisy and sanctimony about Sinn Fein to please give it up. The history of all three parties is identical in that they are all bathed in blood accompanied by the rhetoric of liberation and freedom fighting. Here in Clonakilty we have a large statue of Michael Collins overlooking Emmet Square to which ‘respectable’ people make routine pilgrimages. Collins was arguably the most blood-thirsty and ruthless terrorist of them all, depending on your point of view. The only difference between modern Sinn Fein as led by Gerry Adams and the others is that the Catholic minority in the North had to endure serious discrimination for several decades after the heroes of 1916 and their successors had become revered and comfortable old men with little inclination to try help their former comrades in arms. The rationale for what Sinn Fein did was identical – there is no moral high ground from which Fianna Fail or Fine Gael can lecture them – not least because they insist, for example, on annually marking the anniversaries of bloody ambushes on British soldiers and such like – behaviour that is entirely inconsistent with their own sermons about identical behaviour by Sinn Fein. RTE are currently showing a programme about the killings of 19 protestant people in the Bandon area before the civil war had begun, apparently murdered in cold blood. If the same behaviour was wrong for Sinn Fein in the North, then it was wrong for the older parties too and all three must share a deep sense of shame. Or if any one of them are to be hailed as heroic freedom fighters, then the same must be true of the others. You can’t have it both ways and the passage of time is irrelevant. At any rate, it is a straightforward fact that our nation state was forged out of the same sort of violence, however it is now labelled, and that we have made heroes out of those who were responsibile for it. Sinn Fein have long since signed up to a peace process which they played a significant part in briging about themselves. If we are glad of the peace then we must acknowledge what they have done and move on. The Labour Party too shuns the possibility of political co-operation or alliance with Sinn Fein, thereby doing the country a serious disservice, though it sees nothing wrong with the possibility of alliance with the ultra right-wing Fine Gael, idolisers of Michael Collins. Sinn Fein have demonstrably taken the political establishment at their word and have honoured their own. Perhaps it was naive to believe that the other political parties would behave maturely in those circumstances. It’s now clear that petty resentment at the prospect of losing votes to Sinn Fein is what motivates them. To continue to promote the idea that Sinn Fein were and are uniquely evil and that every time Sinn Fein engage with the political process it is nothing more than an opportunity for hypocritical and sneering superiority, makes it clear that our main political parties did not mean a word about preferring genuine democratic dialogue over violence.