Sinn Fein’s past hostility towards NATO ‘shows party was peeing into the wind, and it has come back to hit them in the face’

A unionist MP has challenged Sinn Fein over its stance on NATO, saying that Europe would be in “dire trouble” today if the military alliance did not exist – something the republican party has previously pushed for.

By Adam Kula
Monday, 7th March 2022, 7:54 am
Updated Monday, 7th March 2022, 11:48 am

DUP man Jim Shannon, a frequent commentator on humanitarian matters in Parliament, made the remarks to the News Letter amid the ongoing carnage in Ukraine, and speculation over how NATO will respond.

NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) is widely seen by right-leaning or centrist parties as being a bulwark against Russian efforts to dominate Europe.

It is basically a pact founded in 1949 to push back against the expansion of the USSR.

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The NATO logo

Ukraine is not a member but does have “partner” status.

NATO says this means “it cooperates closely with NATO but it is not covered by the security guarantee in the Alliance’s founding treaty”.

However other nearby nations like Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania and Poland are members, and if they were attacked by Russia it would mean all NATO members would be obliged to fight back.

Many left-leaning politicians have questioned why NATO continues to exist 30 years after the USSR fell apart, and view the alliance as provokative towards Russia.


Sinn Fein’s rhetoric has historically been hostile towards NATO.

Foreign spokesman Seán Crowe TD said in 2014 that “NATO is nothing more than a cold war relic that needs to be disbanded”.

The page containing this statement has now been removed from Sinn Fein’s website, and instead a message reads: “We’re sorry, but the page you requested could not be found... we may have recently moved, renamed, or deleted certain pages.”

A destroyed armored personnel carrier stands in the central square of the town of Makariv, 60 kilometres west of Kyiv, Ukraine, after a heavy night battle Friday, March 4, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

Gerry Adams has also spoken out against NATO, accusing the Irish state in 1999 of offering “passive support for NATO aggression” and of it acting like a “world policeman”.

Going back to the 1970s, the IRA Green Book said that the “republican movement” is opposed to “military alliances such as NATO” ( and the INLA went so far as to bomb a radar station in Co Cork in the 1980s, saying it was being used by NATO).

The News Letter asked Sinn Fein a number of times this week what its current stance is on NATO, but got no response.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald recently struck a less damning tone towards NATO, telling the Dail: “Any attempt by Putin or his regime to justify his actions as a response to NATO are without foundation and are merely a means of distraction from his own culpability.”


Mr Shannon said: “The value of NATO has to be the strength in numbers of the NATO countries together.

“Big countries like Germany, France, and the UK will look after Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria, and Hungary.

“The strength lies in helping each-other.

“Sinn Fein – we’ll use an Ulsterism on this one – are peeing into the wind.

“And you know what happens when you pee into the wind – it comes back and hits you in the face.

“For Sinn Fein to have any animosity against NATO I think puts them out of touch with public opinion.

“If we’d followed Sinn Fein’s logic to its conclusion, and NATO had not been the strong force it is today, the tanks of Russia would be flying into the Baltic states.

“Poland would be under threat, and all the other former Soviet states.

“And if they push that far, they [the Russians] will say: ‘Will we push into Germany too?’”


Many other parties have spoken out against NATO, especially People Before Profit, which draws much of its support from traditionally-republican areas, particularly west Belfast.

Gerry Carroll, its MLA for that constituency, told the Assembly at the end of February: “Far from being an innocent party that defends democracy, NATO is the armed wing of western imperialism.

“Its expansion has been a key factor in heightening tensions, now leading to an all-out war.”

The Workers’ Party (which grew out of the OIRA) has dubbed Nato “an aggressive imperialist war machine”, whilst the Irish Republican Socialist Party (which grew out of the INLA) last week blamed it for the current crisis in Ukraine, accusing it of “upholding the Western imperialist hegemony”.

SDLP MLA Claire Hanna told the News Letter: “The world is a complex place and the roots of conflict often are too, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is straightforward.

“It’s an imperialist megalomaniac menacing innocent children, women and men ...

“No credible political voice should be equivocating on this.”


Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg , Holland, Norway, Portugal, UK, US – all joined in 1949.

The remaining members are:

Greece (1952),

Turkey (1952),

Germany (1955),

Spain (1982),

Czech Republic (1999),

Hungary (1999),

Poland (1999),

Bulgaria (2004),

Estonia (2004),

Latvia (2004),

Lithuania (2004),

Romania (2004),

Slovakia (2004),

Slovenia (2004),

Albania (2009),

Croatia (2009),

Montenegro (2017),

North Macedonia (2020)

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