The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

New Year's Greetings


It is clear that the last few years have been one of extraordinary growth and success for the Republican Movement. This statement is every bit as true in the West Indies as it is in Ireland, and I am delighted to have the opportunity to address the wider Republican family. It is perhaps fair to say that the publishers of the Blanket have not always been as supportive as they might of the Movement's efforts, or sufficiently appreciative of our triumphs, but now is not the time for recriminations. I know many people are cynical about Sinn Fein supporters on this side of the Atlantic, even one who like me has experienced the full horror of partition as a child in Foxrock, but many of us feel that our very distance lends us an objectivity and detachment which perhaps the locals lack. We can see the wood from the trees when it comes to our petty squabbles. I am sure I speak for the whole Movement when I say, whatever harsh words may have passed, we are prepared to forgive you.

So why such cynicism in the face of our record of achievement? There can be no doubt that the Good Friday Agreement was the most significant victory in our history. After 30 years of sacrifice, frequently our own, we have finally set a course for unity. For years the British insisted on the so-called "principle of consent" i.e. that there could be no united Ireland without the consent of its people. That position has now been turned on its head with the guarantee that Ireland will be united when the people of the North consent. I can, of course, appreciate that some are impatient for change but to them I say "take courage"; as the recent census results make clear, the tide is moving inexorably in our favour, and soon there will be enough nationalists to free us once and for all from the tyranny of rule by sectarian head-count. While others were writing their clever articles, we were getting real results.

Another criticism we hear is that the community got nothing (actually some use quite a rude expression!) out of the GFA. Nothing could be further from the truth. The community had its imprisoned leadership restored to it without which it would have been rudderless, and those same men are now holding the levers of power, and why? Because we forced the British to concede power sharing. The days when schools and hospitals could be closed at the stroke of some British carpet-bagger's pen, my friends, are a thing of the past. Some of our critics are so consumed by jealousy that they will even criticise our public representatives for earning an honest wage, as if they should not be entitled to parity of esteem with unionist MLAs. The days when your representatives (and therefore you) could be treated as second class citizens are a thing of the past. Our leaders are first class citizens now and we should applaud this. Perhaps you think that some middle of the road crooner deserves a bigger cottage than the leader of this great movement? Believe it or not there are some so-called republicans who do!

One criticism often heard is that we have institutionalised sectarianism. To them I say this; Sinn Fein is not a sectarian party. Wolfe Tone was a Protestant. I hope that clears the matter up.

So greetings in struggle to all our stragglers, and let's all make a new year's resolution to be more positive in 2003.

Jimmy Sands, Ceann Comhairle, Caribbean Sinn Fein





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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crackpot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.
- Thomas J. Watson

Index: Current Articles

26 January 2003


Other Articles From This Issue:


Sinn Féin's International Perspective: From Conservative to Radical in the Blink of an Eye
Deaglán Ó Donghaile


Northern Ireland's Political Goodwill Games
Paul A. Fitzsimmons


New Year's Greetings

Jimmy Sands


Why Ireland is Unfree; Continued
Chris Fogarty


Youth Against the Dictatorship of the Clerics
Anthony McIntyre


West Belfast Anti-War Meeting - Belfast March
Davy Carlin


Conversation with a State Assassin



23 January 2003


Answers Needed Now
Francie Perry


Where are the courts of Human Rights?
Victor Barker


Principle, Pragmatism and Lies

Ed Moloney


Historical Unconsciousness
Seoirse McLaughlin


Fallen Anglicans and Other Limping Analogies
Eoghan O'Suilleabhain


A Message from the Heart of the Empire
Michael Youlton




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The Blanket Magazine Winter 2002
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