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20 February 1997 Edition

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John Bruton's judgement

John Bruton delivered yet another of his diatribes against Sinn Féin this week. Speaking in Dublin on 17 February Bruton accused republicans of having a ``nightmare version of unity''. He compared republicanism to the ``traditional version of unionism'' and said it did not recognise ``the possibility of multiple alleigances''. Republicans had a ``territorial concept of unity'', he alleged.

These remarks are worthy of more detailed refutation at a later stage but for now let it be said again that they reflect very poorly on the political judgement of the Fine Gael leader. Republicans seek the unity of the Irish people, respect for the varying allegainces of all sections of our people, an inclusive peace process leading to a negotiatied peace settlement that recognises the diversity of all the traditions that make up the Irish nation.

Compare Bruton's speech on Monday with his mild expression of ``surprise'' at the outrageous comments of Patrick Mayhew at the weekend when he said that it would be unfair to the British soldiers who murdered 14 civilians on Bloody Sunday for the British government to issue an apology.

Bruton couched his attack on Sinn Féin in much woolly talk about European ideals. But during his tenure of office he failed to make any impact at a European Union level in support of rebuilding the peace process. He has always been more anxious to mantain an unruffled relationship with London than to attempt to mobilise international opinion on the Irish side.

Community punishment won't work

In the last three months hundreds of nationalist homes - notably in Belfast and Lurgan - have been severely damaged by the RUC and British Army. This, together with a marked increase in harassment and assaults on young people, signals a return to the tactic of community punishment.

Using the cover of arms searches, Crown Forces have targeted entire communities. Floorboards and walls have been ripped out and occupants terrorised.

Nothing demonstrates that the Crown Forces are an occupying army quite like their tactic of intimidating the people of working class nationalist areas. It is an attempt scared and cowed.

It won't work. You'd think that the British would have learned that after all this time.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1