SINN Fein is a party run along military lines which is increasingly moving former terrorists into positions of power, Alasdair McDonnell has said.
The SDLP leader, who is a long-standing critic of Sinn Fein, compared Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness to the “big daddy” leaders who during communist rule in eastern Europe would tell their parties what they should do. The South Belfast MP launched the blistering verbal assault on how Sinn Fein is run during an interview with the News Letter in which he also made clear that he will not take the SDLP into Opposition at Stormont despite claiming that the DUP and Sinn Fein had “put a gun to Alex Attwood’s head”.
He said that with the SDLP “what you see is what you get” but that with Sinn Fein “I’m not quite sure what you’re going to get because basically there’s a whole web of truth or lack of truth – there’s a whole web of now you see and now you don’t; there’s the whole web of are they Provos or are they not or have the Provos just all evaporated?
“These boys are all recycled and keep coming back to haunt us.”
When asked what differentiated the SDLP and Sinn Fein, the 62-year-old veteran said: “The difficulty for me is that Sinn Fein is still dominated by a military structure and a military command and they are not prepared to move on into being an ordinary give and take [structure] – Sinn Fein make political decisions from the top down.
“I am a democrat; democracy may not be the easiest form of government but it is certainly the best that we’ve got.
“I enjoy an argument, I enjoy a discussion, I enjoy people opening out and having different slants because that way if views are shared you usually end up having the option of taking the best view.
“But in a command situation you’re into the situation that the Soviet Union and others were in 25 years ago where big daddy says this and you gotta do what big daddy says.
“They have moved a lot of their military people into council and MLA positions and their politics – you see it every day – are one thing here and another thing there.
“In Dublin they’re against everything and here they’re implementing the things they’re opposed to in Dublin.”
Does it shock him therefore that nationalism is increasingly going to Sinn Fein?
“Nationalism is not going more and more towards Sinn Fein; nationalism is maturing; nationalism was excluded from the political system here for many, many years and nationalism began to mature and learn about politics in the late ‘60s and ‘70s and that process is still going on.
“It’s difficult for me to accept it, but I fully recognise why –when it comes to elections people see Paisley in the past or Peter Robinson or somebody in the DUP saying some crazy thing or they see the Orange Order refusing to talk to anybody and they say ‘We’ll put it up to them, we’ll vote Sinn Fein’.
“A lot of the people who are voting for Sinn Fein are voting for defiance.”
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