The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Anthony McIntyre • 14 March 2005

It gets worse by the day for Sinn Fein. Not once has the party seized the initiative in its ongoing conflict with the McCartney family. Its attempt to dress up such conflict in the language of cooperation runs aground virtually every few days as some new revelation comes to light. With party election candidates, past and present, Cora Groogan, Deirdre Hargey and Sean Hayes now admitting to having been in the bar on the night of the attack, Sinn Fein will find the going hard as it strives to depict itself as an honest broker.

Few actually know what, if anything, each of these people witnessed on the night in question. None of them are thugs and there is no suggestion that they had any part in the violence. In statements submitted to either their solicitors or the police ombudsman they apparently claimed to have seen nothing. As an exercise in persuading doubters it is a bootless endeavour. Yet, they alone know the accuracy of their own claims. But taken in conjunction with those who are suspects all exercising their legal right to refuse to answer questions under arrest - giving off the image that IRA training has kicked in - Sinn Fein will have its work cut out to fend off allegations that the party is not coordinating a cover up. What many were prepared to concede was initial bad management on Sinn Fein's part has now given way to suspicions of bad faith.

It may well be that there was nobody in the bar other than Sinn Fein and IRA members and this might explain why no witnesses in possession of evidence have come forward. Misplaced loyalty to friends, being got to, the anonymous pressure of the group, or an awareness that they still have to live in the community close to the killers' friends and families can all serve as powerful disincentives to anyone thinking about scaling the wall of silence. It is inconceivable that all the Sinn Fein or IRA members in the bar that evening would have approved of what their party and militia colleagues were doing to one of the party's own voters. Nevertheless, the images of that night are now not only of knives, psychopaths and innocent victims being slashed and hacked, but come against a graphic backdrop which depicts a feeding frenzy of denial.

The corollary has been that Sinn Fein leaders must wince each time they hear the name Robert McCartney. As St Patrick's Day approaches the party is being reminded of the potency of the issue. The McCartney women are on their way to Washington. They will visit the White House, Gerry Adams will not. And the party leader has no space to finger point at the women for meeting George Bush. His willingness to meet the American leader on many occasions has fashioned a rod for his own back as the McCartney women seek to make use of the Bush presidency to apply pressure to Sinn Fein.

Adams concedes his party is on the back foot. Each time he reaches into the hat for the much needed rabbit he pulls only a rottweiler that without fail bites him. Meanwhile, back in Ireland, the party seems to be floundering. Martin McGuinness, lacking the finesse of his boss, has found that when in a hole keep digging. Today he warned the McCartney women not to consider entering the electoral arena in their search for justice. This can only have sinister connotations given the experience of the 1980 hunger striker, John Nixon, who a number of years ago was told by colleagues of McGuinness that were he to stand for election in Armagh city he would be left without legs to stand on.

If the justice campaign necessitates electoral intervention, the McCartneys have the same rights as everyone else. To think otherwise is to champion democracy denied. The electorate, not political parties, own the seats. It is unlikely that the family will be influenced on the matter by anything Martin McGuinness has to say. It is improbable that they shall allow him to place barriers in the search for justice, or find themselves acquiescing in the notion that politics is a privileged space for the justice deniers.

A refreshing feature of the justice campaign being waged by the McCartney women is their strategic acumen. They have yet to be outmanoeuvred by Sinn Fein or its alter ego, the IRA. Martin McGuinness is showing some signs of nerves as he contemplates the possibility of an open democratic challenge to his secret society brand of politics. Those in Sinn Fein who wish to see a more egalitarian republicanism could do worse than consider aligning with the women as part of a wider democratic thrust against their own leaders and the totalitarian ethos that they promote. The alternative is to acquiesce in the 'cultic idiocy' that has so gripped the party and sit idly by as the movement hate machine is cranked up in anticipation of the inevitable demonising of the sisters as soon as they set foot back on Irish soil.

Post-Washington the Sinn Fein gloves will be off. The McCartney women will have to face that as part of the normal political rough and tumble. But does the warning from McGuinness mean that, more sinisterly, IRA gloves will be on?
















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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
- George Bernard Shaw

Index: Current Articles

22 March 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

A Must Read
Mick Hall

Green Paper on Irish Unity
32 CSM Press Release

The Advisocrats
Anthony McIntyre

Fig Leaf
Dr John Coulter

Democractic Killers
Fred A Wilcox

Eamon McCann

No Dodging the Moral Dilemma
David Adams

After St Patrick's Day, Where Goes the Peace Process?
Fr. Sean Mc Manus. INC

The Left Way Could be the Right Way for Sinn Fein
Eamon McCann

Robert McCartney
Carol Mallon

Don't Lose Perspective
Richard Wallace

Anthony McIntyre

Is Spring Banging at the Doors of the Arab World?
Michael Youlton

The Letters page has been updated.

16 March 2005

Statement from the Family of Knife Murder Victim Mark 'Mousey' Robinson
Robinson Family, Derry

Power in the Pub
Anthony McIntyre

Why No Arrests? (Whose agenda are we working to)?
TR FitzSimons

McCartneys: how the personal became political
Brendan O'Neill

No Breakthrough
Michael Benson

Hope for Justice
Mick Hall

Provisional Thuggery in Strabane
Des Dalton

Basking in the Glory?
Dr John Coulter

This Is What Democracy Doesn't Look Like
Fred A. Wilcox

Way Beyond Orwell
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain

Aliyah and the Oligarchs
Mary La Rosa



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