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2 March 2006 Edition

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Dublin riot was not republican

Last Saturday's rioting in Dublin had nothing to do with the cause or the ideals of Irish republicanism. Sinn Féin had made clear its position on the proposed Love Ulster march in advance of Saturday's events. Sinn Féin leaders and representatives had advised all Sinn Féin members, activists and supporters to ignore the loyalist march and not to be involved or associated with any protests against it organised by others. This advice was heeded.

The riot leaves many questions to be answered by various authorities including the Gardaí, the City Council and the Minister for Justice. Michael McDowell's self-made image as the champion of law and order must surely be called into question. Those who wanted to use the loyalist parade as an excuse to run riot were provided with a ready made ammunition dump courtesy of Dublin City Council building works.

The proposed march through the centre of Dublin by the Love Ulster organisation was undoubtedly provocative and the organisers have been closely associated with unionist paramilitaries. In a calculated decision, organisers proposed to carry placards in honour of those associated with the Dublin/Monaghan bombings of 1974.

The sectarian and one sided nature of the interpretation of victimhood by FAIR and Love Ulster cannot be ignored. Michael McDowell's decsion to meet with the organisers of Saturday's march must be seen in the light of his failure to meet with the victims of Unionist and British state violence, who attended Leinster House on two occasions last year.

However Sinn Féin defends the right to demonstrate and to march. This is not an absolute right but city centres should be neutral venues and even people as objectionable and provocative as Willie Frazier and his various associates should be allowed to march peacefully there. Saturday's rioting violated this principle.

In no way can the actions of the rioters be described as republican. The participants were a combination of deluded people who may or may not call themselves republicans and various drunken, anti-social and criminal elements using the riots as a cover to loot. Some in the rioting crowd showed flagrant disrespect for the Tricolour, using it variously as a cloak or a mask. These are not the actions of republicans.

The rioters have not furthered any political cause except that of rejectionist Unionism. They played right into the hands of the DUP and Love Ulster who are now using it as yet another excuse for not engaging with nationalist Ireland and to say that there is no place for unionists in a united Ireland.

Another reactionary agenda served by Saturday's rioting is the demand to restrict all political protest in Dublin city centre. Dublin City Council management have attempted to impose such restrictions for some time, in the face of opposition from progressive political forces and organisations. Saturday's events will strengthen the hand of City Council bureaucrats and right wing politicians who want to restrict everyone's right to peacefully protest.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1