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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Friday the 13th - The Most Terrifying Deal Ever Done!


Tom Luby • 16 October 2006

We shouldn't have been surprised at all, really. After all this is the party that calls itself "socialist republican", yet gave us two ministers who privatised school building programmes and closed hospitals with as much gusto and lack of concern for the social consequences as Margaret Thatcher shafting the coal miners of Yorkshire.

Nonetheless, dear readers, how many of you let out a gasp of horror when you heard, courtesy of Ian Paisley's lips, that in order to slither back into power, Sinn Fein had collaborated in ensuring the survival of that symbol of class privilege, the Eleven plus?

It wasn't that long ago - was it? - that our dearly beloved Minister of Education back in 2001, James Martin Pacelli McGuinness, former IRA Chief of Staff, Northern Commander and Chairman of the Army Council, made a solemn pledge to scrap the exam that he had himself failed. It would go, he said, and end a system that condemned people to low wages and poor housing before they'd even grown pubic hair. His own life journey, from butcher to government minister was evidence, he insisted, of the deep flaw in the Eleven plus system.

And, we thought, a promise given by somebody who had spent the years between the butcher's shop and the ministerial suite, making life and death decisions for other people, was something that would only be given in the expectation that it would be honoured. But apparently we were wrong about that, just as we were wrong about nearly everything we thought Sinn Fein stood for.

Until last Friday, it was, perhaps, the only hopeful aspect of a Sinn Fein expedition into government that otherwise had brought only disappointment and the wholesale ditching of political principle. While Barbara Brown obediently axed medical services and outpatient departments to save money for the British National Health Service and Minister McGuinness implemented, with nary a sign of a single misgiving, Tony Blair's neo-liberal economic agenda in the classroom, at least there was still that pledge to scrap the Eleven plus as evidence that Sinn Fein believed in...... well, something.

Now even that has gone, with not as much as an apology or a half-hearted effort to pretend that once Sinn Fein bums are back on the leathered rear seats of ministerial cars, they'd try to make it right. No, the promise to bin the Eleven plus, like everything else the republican movement once stood for, had to be sacrificed so that the project to respectabilise and habilitate Gerry Adams and his colleagues continued on its ever upward and onward journey.

There is a lesson from the episode of the Eleven plus at St Andrews last Friday and it is a simple one. Sinn Fein believes in nothing, not a single blessed thing. Political principles are merely commodities to be traded for narrow, electoral gains and ideology is a burdensome weight whose only value lies in the freedom of movement that comes once it is dumped.

Only the search for power and the belief that everything can be abandoned in order to secure it can adequately explain the Adams-McGuinness phenomenon. There is a salutory warning here for the faithful disciples who have tolerated the U-turns and compromises of their leaders in the expectation that once power is attained it will be used to secure the hallowed goal. Once their leaders attain power they will do everything they can to hold on to it because power, by its nature, is addictive - and if that means the hallowed goal joins everything else in the Sinn Fein bin, then so be it.

There was another lesson from St Andrews on Friday the 13th and it was evident in the large contingent of British and foreign media present for Tony Blair's press conference. They weren't there to hear about the latest twists and turn in our boring and never-ending story but to quiz the British premier about a call from his most senior General for troops to quit Iraq.

As that was happening, the Bush regime in America was preparing its own retreat from Iraq, commissioning a report from James Baker that will almost certainly recommend some sort of military withdrawal from the country. The truth is that the Iraqi insurgents are about to succeed in expelling foreign invaders from their soil. As, by contrast, Sinn Fein leaders queued up at St Andrews to suck the PSNI truncheon, as one wit put it, so as to get a share of governing British Northern Ireland, the other truth is that their insurgency has been well and truly defeated.









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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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Index: Current Articles

16 October 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Friday the 13th — The Most Terrifying Deal Ever Done!
Tom Luby

Black Friday
Anthony McIntyre

When No Means Yes
Dr John Coulter

Blowin' In The Wind
John Kennedy

Time to Conclude NI Process
David Adams

Once Bitten
Anthony McIntyre

Dysfunctional Family Values
Mick Hall

Racism: The Social Uniter?
Dr John Coulter

Nobody Home
John Kennedy

'The Revolution is the People'
Jane Horgan-Jones

10 October 2006

Hail The Messiah
Anthony McIntyre

HET: History of Whitewash Continues
Martin Galvin

To Deal or Not
Martin Ingram

One Small Step for Paisley, One Giant Step for Ireland?
Dr John Coulter

The Haunting
John Kennedy

Subversion of an Irish Peace Plan
Brian Wardlow

Working Class Hero
Mick Hall

Federal Unionism—Early Sinn Fein: Article 15 - 22
Michael Gillespie

John Kennedy

Racism: The Social Cancer
Dr John Coulter

Forced Out
Anthony McIntyre

The Letters Page Has Been Updated.



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