A key tenet of Sinn Fein, and broader nationalism’s strategy, within the framework of the ‘progressive’ pan-nationalist coalition, is to dress up political demands in the language of rights.
The purpose behind this is to elevate their political demands above the realms of normal democratic politics and have them implemented over the heads of our democratically elected institutions.
We have seen this in action with numerous attempts to use strategic litigation to subvert the democratic will of the majority, primarily on social and legacy issues but also notably in a crude attempt to derail Brexit.
A current key political demand of Sinn Fein’s is same sex marriage, which they describe as a right.
It is, however, not a right at all. The European Court of Human Rights has consistently made clear that there is no right to same sex marriage, and failure to legislate for same does not breach the human rights of same sex couples.
Similarly, Sinn Fein cloak their demand for cultural supremacy, in the form of an Irish language act, as a right.
There is no right to have standalone legislation to grant cultural supremacy to a minority language. Again, this is a political demand and not a rights issue.
It is therefore prudent to assess Sinn Fein’s moral authority when it comes to ‘rights’.
The most basic right is contained within Article 2, the Right to Life. This is an absolute right, save for certain occasions when the state can use necessary force.
Sinn Fein are, to put it kindly, supporters of the IRA’s terrorist campaign. As recently as 2015 the PSNI stated that the IRA had carried out a murder on the streets of Belfast .
A subsequent government report found an inextricable link between Sinn Fein and a still functioning IRA Army Council.
In Sinn Fein’s most recent conference there was a clear glorification of the IRA’s terrorist campaign. No remorse, and no apologies for the innocent victims of such despicable acts of terror.
That brings us to the point of assessing Sinn Fein’s politically convenient call for a ‘Rights based society’ in light of the fact that they themselves continually glorify a proscribed terrorist organisation that specialised in denying the most fundamental right to thousands of people, namely Article 2; the Right to Life.
Sinn Fein have no moral authority to discuss rights issues, and will not have until they recognise that the denial of such a fundamental right as the Right to Life is wrong, unjustified and the complete antithesis of a ‘rights based society’.
Sinn Fein introduced the conversation about ‘rights’ into the public discourse, therefore the media and more importantly Unionism should forensically examine the republican movement’s real position on rights.
It is, of course, the case that an individual cannot have the opportunity enjoy any rights if they are denied the most basic right of all, the Right to Life.
It is at this point that Sinn Fein’s monologues about ‘rights’ collapses under the weight of thousands of innocent victims crying out for justice.
Jamie Bryson, Donaghadee