28 August 2008 Edition
SDLP pursuing narrow self-interestIn recent weeks, in a desperate attempt to make itself seem relevant the SDLP has resorted to increasingly bitter and pathetic attacks on Sinn Féin.
In the course of these attacks, SDLP Minister Margaret Ritchie has criticised Sinn Féin for seeking to ensure that the Irish and British Governments honour their commitments under the Good Friday and St Andrews Agreements.
The root of the SDLP attacks is a struggle within the leadership of that party to accept a changed political landscape in the North. Rather than accept the will of the nationalist electorate, which placed Sinn Féin in the position to negotiate and deliver for it, the SDLP has decided to snipe from the political sidelines.
The current political priority must be to have policing and justice powers transferred from Britain to the North’s Executive. Nationalists will be disappointed that at a time when maximum pressure needs to be maintained on the British Government to deliver on the commitments made at St Andrew’s, senior SDLP representatives are instead prioritising narrow self-interest.
Despite the wild claims of Margaret Ritchie, there is no grand anti-SDLP conspiracy amongst the other political parties and the governments. For republicans the sole focus is on ensuring delivery from the British Government.
Referendum re-run not an optionOver two months after the rejection by Irish voters of the Lisbon Treaty, the political establishment in the 26 Counties has still not been able to come to terms with the result.
Aided by their allies in the establishment media, the government and the rest of the ‘Yes’ side have attempted to distort, misrepresent and explain away their crushing referendum defeat.
The attitude of the government, and indeed that of some of the leading lights in Fine Gael, has been marked by a contempt for the electorate and for democracy.
In the past week Minister of State for Europe, Dick Roche has been wheeled out by the Irish Government in a strategy designed to soften up the electorate for a second Lisbon Treaty referendum.
Despite attempts to portray Roche’s remarks as personal, he is clearly engaged in a government kite-flying exercise.
Since the referendum result the Irish Government has done nothing to act on the people’s will and have instead attempted to circumvent it. Irish voters have rejected the Lisbon Treaty. A new deal now needs to be negotiated. Re-running the proposition for a second time is simply not an option.