Can government attacks on SF's past damage the peace process?
The Tanaiste's end of year rant against SF's Mary Lou McDonald "how many bodies are buried on this island thanks to Sinn Fein" is perhaps the most glaring example of a government minister attacking SF over the past. This example is particularly so, given that it was said to a deputy who was certainly not in the IRA and said in response to SF criticism on the government on the cuts and economic policy.
Gilmore attacks SF over 'buried bodies' - National News - Independent.ie
The SF response has been muted, describing it as tedious and a deflection.
Gerry Adams tells Enda Kenny: stop bringing up the IRA · TheJournal.ie
My concern is not for SF (of which I am neither a member of supporter*) but how these repeated attacks could have an effect on the growth of dissidents and the relationship in the NI executive.
1. The handshake between Martin McGuinness and ER2 was significant in most people's book, but a Dublin minister criticised the coverage of it and a backbencher highlighted the partitionist nature of SF's attitude to The Queen.
Government minister attacks Sinn Fein plan to shake hands with Queen Elizabeth | Irish News | IrishCentral
2. The Dail has also been suspended in the wake of comment by the Taoiseach. Dail suspended as Kenny calls on Adams to tell truth on McConville « SAOIRSE32
3. The DUP has echoed the call from the Taoiseach on clarifying Adams relationship with the IRA.
gulftoday.ae | Robinson says Adams must
Gerry Adams rejects Enda Kenny's IRA claims as "nonsense" - WittySparks News
Enda Kenny challenges Gerry Adams on IRA membership in Dail - National News - Independent.ie
4. And for balance, here is the link to Michael Martin's Bodenstown speech, where oddly a DUP spokesman jumped to SF's defence (kind of) by highlighting that this was a battle for "republican" votes in the South.
Adams says Martin's criticism of SF is bogus - The Irish Times - Tue, Oct 23, 2012
A few more points:
1. If any member of SF is suspected of a criminal offence, the rule of law suggests they are entitled to a fair trial rather than trial by soundbite/media.
2. Unless there is a Truth and Reconciliation type tribunal, there is no other forum to debate the complexities of the past acts by the four protagonists - loyalist, republican, UK and RoI. Selecting SF out for attention is unbalanced and therefore politically motivated.
3. If one was a dissident and one sees SF being forced to deny IRA membership or offer apologies or back off from its past, it offers them the opportunity to suggest that SF have "run away" from the real IRA.
4. If one is a unionist and sees Dublin ministers openly attack SF on the basis of innuendo/spooks, one is encouraged to do the same. That's hardly conducive to good relations in the executive/assembly.
5. SF and its members probably do have a case to answer in relation to past events and associations, but is appropriate that government ministers do so in the context of deflecting attention from their own economic decisions?
Edit2: just to clarify, I'm not suggesting that there is a threat of PIRA reemerging or that SF will get fed up with these attacks and disengage in the peace process. My concern is the growth in the dissidents and the implementation of the provisions of the GFA/St Andrews as relations sour in the executive/assembly.
*a SF supporter/member could not raise this point on this site for reasons which the (latest) James Reilly thread shows.http://www.politics.ie/forum/health-...ml#post6214233