Fianna Fail is reaping a problem it helped to sow

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial
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The Fianna Fail leader has launched another fierce attack on Sinn Fein, accusing them of dishonouring the 1916 proclamation and providing rhetorical cover for ongoing dissident terror.

Micheal Martin’s comments are the latest in a long line of assaults by him on Sinn Fein, but perhaps his strongest to date.

People in Northern Ireland will cheer his comment that while the Provisional movement is no longer engaged in murder “they have refused to ... acknowledge that they were always wrong”.

It is always good to see a bid to raise awareness among the youth of the Republic as to the past actions of the Provisional IRA, the group for which Sinn Fein was the political arm.

All the main parties in the Republic have stepped up their rhetoric against Sinn Fein as its support rises there. In 2013, the Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore made an important speech referring to the IRA’s “murderous activities in border counties,” and acknowledging that the Irish state could have done more to stop them. This was not an overt attack on Sinn Fein, but it served the politically useful purpose of reminding the southern electorate of the IRA’s past.

But to some extent the nationalist establishment on both sides of the border is reaping what it has sown. At every juncture in the political process since the first IRA ceasefire in 1994 it has insisted on unionists accepting Sinn Fein in power — but it dreads such power sharing in Dublin.

There was no support for the unionist argument that Sinn Fein should be specifically penalised and excluded after the outrages of breaking into Castlereagh, spying at Stormont, robbing the Northern Bank and murdering Robert McCartney, Instead, all the Northern Ireland parties had to suffer.

As Mr Martin says, Sinn Fein’s past and their refusal to acknowledge it ought to make them unfit to govern. But Fianna Fail were adamant that we had to have them in power up here.