1 February 2007 Edition
Extraordinary Ard Fheis
The recent Special Sinn Féin Ard Fheis and its outcome are now cemented into history. Whether these ‘seismic’ moves will change the landscape of Irish politics, only time will tell.
This was a difficult decision for many republicans, particularly those that have suffered under the corrupt policing regime that existed in the Six counties since Partition. For the last 10 weeks, in every cumann, in every corner of the 32 Counties there was more politics going on than in the last 10 months of the Dáil.
The Ard Chomhairle had a strategy to further republican goals and needed an Ard Fheis to pursue this strategy. But accepting a British police force? Confusing enough for most. It was time for internal debate, discussion and clarification. The Ard Chomhairle put forward its viewpoint, many at grassroots had opposite ones. These views were freely expressed and facilitated throughout the Sinn Féin structures.
The Tuam Cumann decided on a ‘Nil’ vote for our delegates to carry to the Ard Fheis. This was not a chest-beating ‘Níl’ but a well debated position. Indeed, part of the exercise held in our meetings was the ‘Níl’ side had to debate a ‘Ta’ vote and ‘Ta’ had to argue the ‘Nil’ viewpoint before we voted. This ensured that all participating had a very clear understanding of the opposite viewpoint.
At the end of the day the majority of Sinn Féin members voted ‘Tá’ and the motion passed. The Tuam Cumann applauded that democratic decision much the same as you would shake the hand of the opposing team after a well-fought semi-final. We left the playing field like together in a comradely fashion discussing the plans for the next match. You see, we will all be togging out together for the final, unified and focused.
They say republicans do best when there is a fight on their hands. Well we are bursting for a fight to rid this island of political policing and all the corruption and abuses that go with it. From Bellanaboy to Ballybofey, From Ballymurphy to Ballyfermot people deserve representative and accountable policing.
One speaker on the day, a Cullyhanna republican, summed it up in simple terms: “If you have a hole in your cap, you don’t go looking for new wellies!” That South Armagh logic could not paint a clearer picture of the Sinn Féin position. There is a serious problem with policing and we intend to deal with it. End of story. That mans’ logic, as well as his pedigree should ensure many republicans that we are indeed on the right track.
It was indeed a historic day and we are hopeful the people of Ireland will appreciate our efforts to create a democratic, united Ireland. We hope people will show their appreciation by supporting Sinn Féin in the polls North and South come election time. It was said at the Ard Fheis that republicans once moved forward “with an Armalite in one hand and the ballot box in the other. We now have both hands firmly on that ballot box and plan to keep it that way!”
Tuam Sinn Féin,
Collusion, truth and the media
In 1995 Relatives For Justice – a group formed by people who had loved ones killed directly or indirectly by the British state – published a 57-page pamphlet entitled Collusion: 1990-1994. It raised serious questions surrounding murders by unionist paramilitaries in the early 1990s – from Sam Marshall’s killing in Lurgan in March 1990 to John O’Hanlon’s murder in September 1994 in North Belfast. The Southern Irish media and its British counterpart ignored this pamphlet.
I vividly remember in 1995 the hostility RFJ members received from the southern political establishment when we addressed the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation. They simply didn’t want to know about Britain’s shoot-to-kill policy or its policy of collusion with unionist murder gangs. For these reasons I find the surprised outrage now being expressed disgusting.
Of course, there are the southern politicians who feign concern. Martin Finucane, whose brother Pat was murdered by British agents, dubbed it the “nodding dog syndrome”. And no doubt these nodding dogs, when they had the temerity to raise shoot-to-kill and collusion with their British betters accepted their assurances that no such murderous practices were taking place. Just like the Irish government accepts the assurances from Bush and Rice that no prisoners are being flown through Shannon airport onto Guantanamo or worse.
However, if it was Irish republicans – not US republicans – behind the CIA and military flights, you can bet RTE’s Tommie Gorman would be a permanent fixture in Shannon airport and Michael McDowell, the Justice Minister, would be down personally searching those planes.
Nothing but the same old story – but the truth will out.
Oranmore, Co. Galway