DUP right to ignore hypocritical Sinn Fein call for political condemnation
At the Sinn Fein ard fheis Michelle O’Neill said that Stormont would only return if the party’s outstanding issues were resolved.
This, Sinn Fein’s northern leader said, included an Irish language act, reform of the petition of concern mechanism and legacy must be resolved.
Think for a moment what an appalling scenario we are in, and what Ms O’Neill’s comments confirm — that republicans are allowed a veto on return of devolution. Julian Smith has done nothing as secretary of state to challenge the veto.
Indeed his comment about a January election puts no pressure on Sinn Fein, who can sit back and veto Stormont until their demands are met. They won’t be bothered by a poll.
Nor has the secretary of state uttered a word to contradict the Irish government, which has endorsed all SF demands: petition of concern, an Irish language act and the legacy bill.
It is a disturbing reflection on Sinn Fein’s assessment of the mooted Historical Investigations Unit that it might use legacy as a red line for the return of Stormont, even though legacy inquests, its former demand, have been approved (funded by a civil servant due to lack of ministers, a disgraceful reflection of the UK weakness in the face of the Sinn Fein veto).
The party thinks the coming structures are going to be so bad for the security forces that it has the nerve to make them a political demand.
Doug Beattie MC, appropriately, on Monday reiterated his outrage that police alone face misconduct charges under the Stormont House legacy plan, not terrorists.
Meanwhile, the DUP is right not to jump to republican demands for criticism of loyalist conduct. Various Sinn Fein leaders have refused ample opportunities to condemn IRA horrors, including the murder of the lawyer Edgar Graham — a killing that never had proper scrutiny.
The DUP should further make clear its position on the legacy bill. The party’s submission to the bill consultation failed to acknowledge adequately grave problems with the legislation, yet the DUP is the only party likely to have the clout to stop these injustices.