Editorial: It is welcome, albeit belated, that Sinn Fein is at last fully backing the PSNI

News Letter editorial on Saturday February 10 2024:
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​A curious feature of the last year or more is how mute Sinn Fein has been about the absence of Stormont.

​A possible reason for this, although unlikely, is that the party realised it had collapsed the assembly for three years until it got an Irish language act.

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Another potential reason for their relative muteness is that they were waiting and hoping that unionists would ultimately acquiesce in the major constitutional change of an Irish Sea border.

Yet another reason, most likely of all, is that the party is desperate to get in power on both sides of the Irish border.

Like the Labour Party in Great Britain, which is on the brink of forming the next UK government, Sinn Fein is playing all sorts of things safely. It has not been as shrill on denouncing Israel as it might have been if not for the hope that the party will be able to say it has provided the next Taoiseach.

Some recent opinion poll dips in the Republic show that such an outcome is not guaranteed.

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Last week Michelle O’Neill became the first minister of Northern Ireland.

Her tone and rhetoric has been more restrained than at many times in the past.

Most people who deplored the terrorism that wreaked such havoc in Northern Ireland during the Troubles will be sad, perhaps even dismayed, that a politician from a party that was inextricably linked to the IRA now holds such a post which, apart from its actual powers, symbolises NI. It is to be hoped then that Ms O’Neill’s new tone persists.

While it is horrific to think that the first minister justifies the murder of more than 300 police officers in this society, it is indisputably a welcome development that Sinn Fein is now – belatedly – endorsing the police so fully that its Stormont leader is attending PSNI graduation ceremonies.