always I was intrigued by Tommy
Gormans article in the last edition of
The Blanket. His views on Sinn Féin
are well know and well rehearsed. In that respect
there is nothing new his latest contribution.
was interesting in his recent comments was what
he ignored and chose not to address when discussing
Bairbre de Brún MEPs reply to John Kelly
in the Irish News.
who is a republican that I both respect and have
defended on various web sites, wrote a letter to
the Irish News. His letter, which was 5 or
more pages long, complained that Sinn Féin
MEPs refused to support the proposed EU commission
on the basis that, among other things, it contained
a rights wing conservative Italian politician Rocco
Buttiglione. The Irish News turned Johns
letter into a brief new story.
take on this was that Sinn Féin's decision
was based on a liberal fundamentalism, which displayed
intolerance to peoples religious views (in this
case an Italian Catholic).
reply was neither arrogant not an attack
on John, contrary to Tommys article.
Bairbre did do however, was to set the record straight,
both about why she and Mary Lou McDonald voted against
the commission and what Sinn Féins
difficulties were with Rocco Buttiglione.
is a controversial and complicated figure. He not
only holds strong and orthodox Catholic moral views,
but approaches political issues with the same world
view. Not only has he made strong and questionable
remarks about gays, women, single parents and asylum
seekers in recent months, but as an Italian MP and
MEP he has tried on various occasions to put these
views into legislation.
Tommy chose not to deal with this issue, despite
being the central point of contention between John
Kelly and Bairbre. Rather he chose to list a well
worn series of accusations about the party having
abandoned our republican and socialist politics.
Some of what he said was factually incorrect (Sinn
Féin MLAs do not keep travel expenses); some
are badly informed (as Health minister Bairbre was
able to overturn and block more spending cuts and
privatisations that would have happened on some
other partys watch). Other comments are ongoing
matters of debate on which Tommy and I will never
the issue of PPPs and PFIs it is quite amazing for
Tommy to claim that John Kelly was the only
one to raise these issue. How does Tommy know?
Not being a Sinn Féin member Tommy has no
idea what positions people took or what work people
did on this issue. He also ignores the fact that
at the 2002 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis we agreed
a substantial and radical policy, which clarified
our opposition to privatisations. A position which
is now binding on all the partys elected representatives.
a personal note I was surprised by John's comments.
He did, as Tommy states, raise objections earlier
this year to what he believes to be a rightward
trend within Sinn Féin. Because of this his
criticisms of Bairbre for opposing a right wing
EU commission is perplexing. John chose to raise
the issue publicly in the pages of the Irish
News and Bairbre chose a right of reply. John
is entitled to his view, as is Bairbre.
Tommy not only seems to think otherwise. Surprisingly
Tommy sidesteps the central issue of the exchange
final thought is this. Tommy opines in his article
that, Soon we shall witness the final demise
of the IRA as Sinn Fein drops the last veil in its
dance of deceit. While Tommy and I will disagree
on the merits of the Belfast Agreement and the more
general political strategy of Sinn Féin,
his comment has a twist, which rebounds against
many republicans critical of Sinn Féin Tommy
has a dilemma, which he cannot resolve. If Sinn
Féins strategy is such a sell out and
the Agreement a ruse for consolidating British rule
in Ireland, why then do more and more people support
Sinn Féin and why do the British government
and unionists work so hard to block its implementation.
If the reason for all of this is Sinn Féins
power of deception what does it say about the deceived?
Are the republican community really that stupid?
I dont think so. Insulting people as the wilfully
blind surely cannot be the answer.
just maybe, people are more convinced by Sinn Féins
arguments than they are of Tommys, on the
basis of their own intelligent and reasoned assessment
of the world in which they live.
O'Broin is Sinn Féin's Director of European