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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Another Gigantic Step

Short of burning the tricolour and hoisting the Union Flag over Connolly House, there isn't much more that Sinn Fein could do to admit that Northern Ireland, Unionism and the present United Kingdom are here and here to stay – Alex Kane

Anthony McIntyre • 24 May 2007

It was a surreal moment to read on the anniversary of the death of IRA hunger striker Frank Hughes, comments by Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney, himself a former hunger striker, that the reestablishment of a subsidiary branch of the British government at Stormont, with Mullah Paisley at its head, amounted to a gigantic step towards a united Ireland. The question immediately prompted by McCartney’s pronouncement is a how rather than a when one.

It was the sort of politics Hughes’s fiercest critics within the nationalist community and Dublin 4 might conceivably have articulated at the time of his hunger strike. It resembled nothing Frank Hughes was ever known to have said or believed. The statement from the protesting prisoners at the conclusion of the 1981 hunger strike effectively rubbished anybody who entertained such ideas. Terms like imperialist lickspittles and Redmondites, that were used to describe the receptacles of such notions, were part of the republican lexicon of the day. Stormont and power sharing were inflexions located squarely within an ‘anti-republican’ discourse. As Patrick Murphy writes in the Irish News today: ‘apart from the present Sinn Fein leadership, it is hard to think of anyone claiming to be from the republican tradition who could comfortably stand at Stormont.’

If McCartney’s initial assertion did not sound totally implausible it most certainly did by the time, when for purposes of  authentication, he quoted the greatest liar of modern British politics, Tony Blair, in support of his contention that Sinn Fein had not deviated one iota from its republican politics. If need be, on the grounds of political expediency, Blair would testify that Friday is the day immediately preceding Tuesday, or that Myra Hindley was the Mother Teresa of England.  

Whether Raymond McCartney really believes what he said about a united Ireland via Stormont or is only leaving a nail in the seat of the DUP throne in the North’s partitionist parliament for the purposes of creating a little sectarian animation is a moot point. Selling the normally unpalatable to your own community is always easier if a bit of balloon popping is inflicted on the other community. It just won’t do to have Jeffrey Donaldson rain on the peace process parade by writing that Sinn Fein moves ‘are a million miles away from 1916 and the declaration of a 32-county republic. In short, the IRA has lost the battle for a United Ireland.’

In one of those double-entendres the Sinn Fein leadership is so adept at pushing, IRA leaders appeared in the public gallery at Stormont for the inauguration of Europe’s only theocratic premier. On one dimension, it was about unnerving the DUP with the message ‘they haven’t gone away you know.’ That would please the party faithful, but they ultimately matter little in leadership considerations. More importantly was the other side of the message that was being transmitted ahead of today’s general election in the Republic.  It was tantamount to saying that if the IRA can be brought along to applaud this farce it is evidence of how deep within the peace process the organisation has become entombed and from which there is no escape. The message is simple: Sinn Fein is okay to vote for. It really is an establishment party.

Raymond McCartney’s evaluation of where Sinn Fein strategy is leading looks anaemic when judged against Malachi O’Doherty’s more wholesome observation: ‘Martin McGuinness fawning over Paisley like a wee boy hugging his granda’s knee. Had he fought to be loved by a big cuddly prod?’

If he fought for anything else his outstanding achievement has been to conceal it.


















































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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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18 June 2007

Other Articles From This Issue:

Belly Up
Anthony McIntyre

Reality Hits Home
John Kennedy

It's Luta Continua for Sinn Fein in the South of Ireland
Mick Hall

The Scream
Brian Mór

Government Woes
Mick Hall

And Now a Word From Our Minister, Martin
Brian Mór

Ruled By Zealots
Michael Gillespie

Introducing, Big Ian & the Gerryaires
Brian Mór

Another Gigantic Step
Anthony McIntyre

A New Dawn
John Kennedy

The Colonisation of Sinn Fein/IRA
Paddy Hackett

Address to éirígí’s James Connolly Commemoration
Daithí Mac An Mhaistír

Preparing an Irish Democracy
32 County Sovereignty Movement

The Irish Left
Mick Hall

Fred A. Wilcox

Crocodile Tears
John Kennedy

Tensions Haven't Gone Away
Dan Collins

2025: Dawn of the New Troubles?
Dr John Coulter

Do Unionists Really Accept Nationalists as Equals
Michéal MháDúnnaín

Somethings Never Change
John Kennedy

Dawson's Legacy
Dr John Coulter

Don't Take Me Now, Lord
Brian Mór

40 Years of Occupation and 60 Years of Wars: Enough
Mazin Qumsiyeh

Basque Americans for a Special Envoy
Mark J. Guerry

Religion Has Everything to do With Terrorism
Maryam Namazie

6 May 2007

Colluding in Silence
Mick Hall

Censorship Complementing Cover Up
Anthony McIntyre

John Kennedy

Antaine Uas O'Labhradha

Protestantism and the Republic
Roy Johnston

UVF Statement: Unionists Welcome in Nine-County Ulster Parliament
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

Hidden Hand
John Kennedy

Selection at Eleven
Michael Gillespie

Stormont Christian Coalition?
Dr John Coulter

Ken Bruen's 'The Priest': Galway's Heart of Moral Darkness
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Scottish Left Must Reunite in New Socialist Party!
Mick Hall

Return of the Wild Geese
Dr John Coulter

Calling All de Gaulles!
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Blair's Irish Decade
Dr John Coulter



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