The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Seeing What You Want To See

Eoin O’Broin • 28 November 2004

As always I was intrigued by Tommy Gorman’s 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.

What 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.

John, 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 John’s letter into a brief new story.

John's 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).

Bairbre's reply was neither ‘arrogant’ not an ‘attack’ on John, contrary to Tommy’s article.

What 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 Féin’s difficulties were with Rocco Buttiglione.

He 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.

Interestingly 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 party’s watch). Other comments are ongoing matters of debate on which Tommy and I will never agree.

On 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 party’s elected representatives.

On 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.

Interestingly Tommy not only seems to think otherwise. Surprisingly Tommy sidesteps the central issue of the exchange issue.

My 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 him.

Like many republicans critical of Sinn Féin Tommy has a dilemma, which he cannot resolve. If Sinn Féin’s 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 Féin’s power of deception what does it say about the deceived? Are the republican community really that stupid? I don’t think so. Insulting people as the ‘wilfully blind’ surely cannot be the answer.

Maybe, just maybe, people are more convinced by Sinn Féin’s arguments than they are of Tommy’s, on the basis of their own intelligent and reasoned assessment of the world in which they live.


Eoin O'Broin is Sinn Féin's Director of European Affairs.





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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

28 November 2004

Other Articles From This Issue:

Anthony McIntyre

The Cost of the Failure of Politicians is Immeasurable
Mick Hall

A Provisional Pushover
Tom Luby

Seeing What You Want to See
Eoin O Broin

Puritan Death Ethic: Ronan Bennett’s Havoc, in its third year
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Mairtin O Cadhain
Liam O Ruairc

Please Help Put A Smile On The Faces Of Palestine’s Poorest Children This Christmas
Margaret Quinn

23 November 2004

Dropping the Last Veil
Tommy Gorman

No Place for Silence
Anthony McIntyre

The Vacuum

The Unpopular Front: James T. Farrell then, Margaret Hassan now
Seaghán Ó Murchú

Reflection on an Election
Patrick Hurley

New Work on Perry Anderson
Liam O Ruairc

I, a Collaborator
Dorothy Naor

The Murder of Margaret Hassan
Ghali Hassan

The Orange Order and the KKK
Richard Wallace



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