The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

We’re on the one road

Tommy McKearney • Fourthwrite, 20 April 2004

With Sinn Fein’s great capacity for fund raising, the British government’s decision to withhold £120,000 from the organisation’s coffers will not cause undue distress for the party treasurer. Of much greater concern to the party leadership however, will be the incalculable damage the International Monitoring Commission (IMC) report has inflicted on their political ambitions.

Sinn Fein party spokespersons have striven dutifully to offset the damage done by casting doubt on the commissioners’ impartiality and by asking if this type of report is legitimate under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. In fairness to Sinn Fein, it has a point. One time Deputy Directors of the CIA and former heads of Scotland Yard’s Anti-terrorist Unit are hardly the type of people one would automatically assume to be utterly impartial in matters concerning the IRA.

Yet this is of little significance in term of perception and in these cases, perception can be everything. The overwhelming majority of other participants on the Northern Irish political scene have accepted the Commission’s findings without demur and are busily taking advantage of the republican party’s discomfort. Such is the world of politics – Sinn Fein may have good reason to cry foul but nobody else is listening.

The practical outworking of the report therefore, is that unionism of all shades will now claim justification for their refusal to deal with Sinn Fein and in publicity terms their assertions will be difficult to refute. The IMC has after all, delivered the next best thing to the “smoking-gun”. The Democratic Unionist Party will be more sanctimoniously unbending than ever and Ulster Unionists will not dare break the embargo on entering an executive with so-called ‘Sinn Fein/IRA’. Representative politics in the North will remain ‘on hold’ until something of significance can be done about the Provos.

Sinn Fein cannot be too blasé about this. Much of the party’s support is now dependent on its ability to accomplish the day-to-day tasks of representative politics. Sooner or later this new constituency will demand that political pragmatists fill the vacuum created by a movement that is to all intents and purposes once again an abstentionist organisation. Moreover, the party’s opportunities in the southern part of Ireland must eventually be damaged by these allegations because in reality, Sinn Fein’s success in the Republic is due to the absence of an active IRA.

Of course none of this should come as a surprise to seasoned observers. Something similar happened to both Clann na Phoblachta and the Workers Party in the past. Sinn Fein is now facing the same agonising decision and it would be very surprising if leading persons in the movement are not posing the question – hypothetically naturally – if the party would not be better to divest itself of elements that are now maybe ‘surplus to requirement’. Busy commentators might be tempted to write up their reports now and have copy ready for submission ahead of competitors.








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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

23 April 2004


Other Articles From This Issue:


It Hasn't Gone Away You Know
Anthony McIntyre


Brian Mór


We're on the One Road
Tommy McKearney


Easter Week in Derry and the Lazarus Complex
Eamon Sweeney


Time for the Dead

Mick Hall


POWs and the Challenge of Partnership
Aoife Rivera Serrano


'A Real Sensuous Pleasure'
Liam O Ruairc


The Letters page has been updated.


19 April 2004


The Laughter of Our Children
Anthony McIntyre


Prisoners Families Physically Removed from Maghaberry Visit
J. Sean Burns, IRPWA


Profile of a Glove
Kathleen O'Halloran


Irish Americans
Gerry O'Hare


The Globe and the Village

Lila Rajival




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