Ringland has become one of the most persistent critics of SF

Morning View
Morning View

Trevor Ringland speaks with moral authority when he dismisses the notion that Sinn Fein attendance at Somme memorials is major progress.

Mr Ringland is a long-standing political moderate, who has spoken about the mixed identities that most people in Northern Ireland feel to some degree. He has stood for election as a unionist candidate and he has donned an Ireland rugby jersey many times in the past.

But Mr Ringland is no pushover when it comes to the distortion of the past, driven by Sinn Fein in a bid to retrospectively legitimise the IRA, but lazily accepted by much of the media.

Mr Ringland has been one of the most acute observers as to the real Sinn Fein agenda. He has persistently tackled the republican narrative, which will be greatly assisted by the coming legacy inquests, and that depicts as brutal a British state that acted with restraint in the face of Provisional terror.

Now Mr Ringland has again identified a fresh problem with regard to perceptions of Sinn Fein: the notion that it meeting the Queen or attending events such as Somme commemorations is a demonstration of meaningful progress on the past.

The party seeks to project an image of reasonableness, while vindictively pursuing the state over the past (aided by endless investigations by various agencies into state failures, real or imagined, while IRA massacres go largely unpunished).

As Mr Ringland has repeatedly said, the overwhelming majority of the community in Northern Ireland repudiated terror, yet has shown generosity in forgiving the terrorists and accepting them in government.

But Sinn Fein has taken advantage of that generosity and tried to push it to the next level, such as Martin McGuinness lecturing a victims event about state openness when the IRA of which he was a key member has itself been so secretive.

This is not a minor matter of the sort of hypocrisy in which all parties engage. It is duplicitous and destabilising conduct by Sinn Fein and it is greatly to Mr Ringland’s credit that he has been at the forefront of calling it for what it is.