Two main Stormont parties ‘driving tribalism’


Bishop Donal McKeown has attacked Sinn Fein as well as the DUP over a lack of progress on a shared future.

In yesterday’s radio interview, he said two main parties continuing to pull in different directions – with one aspiring to a united Ireland and the other in favour of UK status – was “driving tribalism”.

“I think it’s quite clear, for example, that in the Sinn Fein analysis of our situation here, Sinn Fein cannot afford to make Northern Ireland work too well as a part of the UK,” he said.

“They are working for the end of the link between Northern Ireland and the UK, and clearly they will do everything to ensure that the majority of the population moves in that direction, and we have seen many of the anti-Catholic education comments coming from within the unionist tradition or the Orange tradition, and that would certainly be seen by us as explicitly sectarian.

“They simply are saying the problem in Northern Ireland is the fault of Catholics.”

Bishop McKeown, while he accepted Sinn Fein were working towards a peaceful transition to a united Ireland, said it was quite clear there was “no shared future around the Stormont table” while the DUP and Sinn Fein had opposing aspirations.

“We would love to see Catholic schools as an acceptable option for people from all faith backgrounds and none. In many places that is the case, in other places the realities of sectarianism as encouraged by the two big political traditions in this country continue to lead their tribes, and continue to encourage sectarianism in the interests of their ultimate political outcomes.”

He added: “It is also important not just to blame the schools for being divisive. There is also the macro dimension of the tribal thing that is encouraged by the two main traditions that want to keep their voters in line and we’ll see lots of that over the next number of weeks during the summer – the exploitation of difference in order to undergird what are seen as important political differences, and religion is not the key thing.”