11 January 2007 Edition
Republicans and policing
The proper functioning of the institutions of the Good Friday Agreement and the strengthening of its all-Ireland dimension are fundamental to achieving the radical political change republicans desire. In this context, the need for republicans to remove the policing ‘big stick’ from the hands of both rejectionist unionists in the Six Counties and opportunistic political parties in the 26 Counties is self-evident.
Many Fianna Fáilers will be keeping their fingers crossed that they’ll still have the ‘big stick’ to beat their Sinn Féin opponents over the head with come the next elections. The breaking of this metaphorical ‘big stick’ will remove the final excuse, North and South, for blocking republicans exercising the political power that they are democratically entitled to.
With this in mind, it becomes less important what the DUP now say in relation to policing. Tony Blair has stated that if republicans do decide to support the police, North and South, then the Executive should be established by 26 March, and policing and justice powers should be devolved at the latest by May 2008.
If republicans do decide to support the police, but the DUP block the establishment of the executive on March 2006, then they will be condemned across the world as reactionaries and the Assembly will be scrapped. However, those aspects of the Good Friday Agreement which the DUP do not have a veto over, i.e. everything else, would continue to be developed by the two governments.
Therefore, if a long-term strategic perspective is taken, it is my view that republican support for policing North and South in this country is a win-win scenario for Sinn Féin, irrespective of whether or not the DUP decide to share power with republicans. On the contrary, it is entirely in the interests of those opponents of Irish unification in general and Sinn Féin specifically that this does not happen. That’s why the likes of Jim Allister and Nigel Dodds are falling over themselves to make as inflammatory statements as possible on this issue. They can see the writing on the wall – it says ‘Tiocfaidh ár lá’.
D McS, Belfast.
The current pressure for Sinn Féin to call a special Ard Fheis to endorse the PSNI should be resisted.
No matter how ‘reformed’ the PSNI become, and no matter how many Catholics or nationalists join it, they are still a British police force and are no different to the other vestiges of British rule in the Six Counties.
Republicans have never and should never accept the legitimacy of British rule in any part of Ireland. Any decision by Sinn Féin to support the Six County police, part of the British occupation system in Ireland, amounts to accepting British rule. Sitting on policing boards and encouraging people to join the PSNI amount to helping to enforce British rule.
The hard-line loyalists of the DUP want to prove that they can force republicans to accept what their unionist opponents in the UUP could not. Their aim is to fatally undermine the republican struggle and neither the British nor Dublin Governments have any desire to oppose them. Instead all the pressure is applied to Irish republicans to ‘make the next move’.
Enough is enough. There should be no special ard fheis, no signing up to support for the PSNI and no caving in to the insatiable demands of the DUP. Let Sinn Féin stay true to its republican principles and continue to work for the establishment of an all-Ireland police service which serves all the people of this country and not British state interests – the only kind of policing that can command the allegiance of Irish republicans.
Daithí Breathnach, Baile Átha Cliath.
Astonished at Brendan Ogle
While I thought Brendan Ogle’s article on the ESB last week was a very well-written and informative piece, I was astonished to see him refer to CIE and the pre-privatisation Aer Lingus as ‘basket cases’. Before being sold off by this government, Aer Lingus was a successful, profitable and respected national airline. CIE continues, despite the lowest rate of subvention for public transport in western Europe, to provide a relatively good public transport service. Neither company, I would acknowledge, has been as successful as ESB, but both have made positive contributions to the Irish economy and to the exchequer, and the description of ‘basket cases’ is hardly accurate.
Sinéad Ryan, Wexford.
On behalf of Limerick Sinn Féin I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those who made the recent commemoration to mark the 50th Anniversary of the deaths of Seán Sabhat and Fergal O’Hanlon here in the city such a terrific success.
To Martin McGuinness for his oration. To Malachy McCreesh and Brendy Bonn who laid wreaths. To the Youghal RFB who provided the music, to the republican colour party who led the parade, to Eamon Clancy and Sandra McLellan who read the poem and to Cionnaith Ó Suilleabháin who sang Seán Sabhat from Garryowen beautifully. To those who organised stewarding. To Marie and Paddy Quinlivan, Anita and Gerard Malone who organised the food and refreshments afterwards. To the staff at Limerick City Council and Halla Ide, who facilitated us on the day.
I would particularly like to thank all those who helped in organising the parade and all who attended, some travelling considerable distances.
I would like to especially thank those members of Seán Sabhat’s family who were also in attendance.
The success of the event and the dramatically increased turnout could not have happened without the support of all the above. It was a testimony to the regard that both men are still held in to see such a large commemoration in Limerick 50 years after their deaths. The event was a fitting tribute to the memory of Seán and Fergal and all those who died in the cause of Irish freedom.
Maurice Quinlivan, Sinn Féin, Limerick.