8 February 2007 Edition
Republicans and policing
Until recently, I, like some other republicans, was unsure about the direction our leadership was taking. It appeared to be sacrificing our basic principles while getting little in return. The DUP and the British Government continuously reneged on promises and changed agreed criteria for progress while the Dublin Government paid mere lip service to the idea of a united Ireland.
However, the recent report by the Police Ombudsman on collusion between unionist paramilitaries and the RUC/PSNI has finally convinced me that the leadership is moving in the right direction and that it is time we became involved in the policing boards.
Durring a time when the IRA was on cessation and Sinn Féin was working to achieve republican aims solely by political means, elements within the British establishment, the police and unionism were tyrying desperately to sabotage the peace process. They colluded with criminals and protected them from prosecution as they butchered innocent men and women. They did this in an attempt to provoke an armed response from republicans and because they saw that by engaging in the political process we were gaining headway towards a united Ireland.
Working in the Assembly, Sinn Féin can show grassroots unionists that we are not the monsters we have been portrayed. We can hold institutions to account for their actions, insist on equality for all and begin to heal the false divisions imposed on our society. We can root out bigotry, discrimination and sectarianism from the public services in the Six Counties and begin working towards a true united Ireland.
The armed struggle was a necessary step in the ending of the two-tier situation that had persisted in the Six Counties since partition. It allowed us to begin freeing our people from oppression and brought us to the point where we can now represent the views of the nationalist/republican people.
The brave IRA Volunteers who fought and died for political status, who suffered imprisonment, torture and starvation, should not see that status wasted by a short-sighted refusal to engage in political debate and interaction with the unionist people.
The misguided individuals who cannot see that engaging in the institutions of government does not mean the surrendering of our ideals or ultimate goals need to be persuaded that the struggle still goes on. It is no less difficult for having moved away from physical force and into debate across the Assembly floor. The battlefield may have changed but we can achieve more now with words than we can with weapons.
It is time to persuade the unionist people that their long-term best interests are within a united Ireland. We can only do that by showing them that we can govern in a fair and impartrial manner – this involves engaging with all aspects of society, including the PSNI.
Contae Chill Dara.
LUAS to Derry?
Sinn Féin has been to the fore of campaigning for investment in the north-west, and the border region in particular. But perhaps we are going a little far? As I understand it, the party currently advocates a railway line linking Derry and Dublin, a motorway linking Derry and Dublin, and a dual carriageway linking Derry and Dublin. I hope, though, I am not clear, that the dual carriageway would replace the motorway and vice versa. As lovely as both Derry and Dublin are, I’m not sure there is sufficient demand for all this infrastructure, especially when those of us in Galway are still waiting for the Western Rail Corridor. I await with some trepidation the proposal to extend the LUAS line from Dublin to Derry.
Is mise le meas,
The DUP and integrated education
I see that Iris Robinson MP has attacked integrated education, saying it is “founded on sectarianism” and “feeds off sectarianism”.
Could my Northern comrades confirm that this is the same Iris Robinson as the MP who is a member of the Democratic Unionist Party, whose leader recently lamented that there cannot be a return to the pre-1969 era of unionist domination and “a Protestant state for a Protestant people”?