Issue 3-2023-200dpi

10 January 2002 Edition

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Pre-election Sinn Féin baiting

The sudden re-emergence of anti-Sinn Féin rhetoric from Fianna Fáil this New Year is no coincidence.

Unnerved by the consistent rise of Sinn Féin, and most particularly the party's erosion of grass-roots Fianna Fáil support, senior Leinster House ministers have been playing their parts in a choreographed tirade against Sinn Féin, one that is likely to continue up until the day of the oncoming 26-County general elections.

Continuing, contrived statements from Fianna Fáil politicians - most recently Justice Minister John O'Donoghue - calling the bone fides of Sinn Féin into question and ruling out negotiations for the formation of an incoming government, smack of theatrics and the height of political hypocrisy.

It is ironic in the extreme that Fianna Fáil, of all parties, is trying to create preconditions and obstacles to the advance of Sinn Féin on the issue of association with armed groups. The party itself faced exactly the same charges when it decided to enter Leinster House in the late 1920s. It withstood that particular onslaught and went on to be the major government party in the 26-County state for the remainder of the 20th century.

Equally, how can Fianna Fáil justify its illogical deduction that Sinn Féin can play a full part in the government of one part of Ireland and be excluded from another?

The only explanation for this behaviour is that Fianna Fáil has taken a tactical decision, as part of its electoral strategy, to scaremonger the public away from voting for Sinn Féin.

Such attempts to isolate Sinn Féin fly in the face of the stated core objectives of all parties to the Good Friday Agreement, that of making politics work. Sinn Féin voters are entitled not to be automatically considered second-class citizens by Fianna Fáil or anyone else.

Is this the way the establishment parties are going to avoid facing local, regional and national issues? Can we expect anything more than the type of negative campaigning they employed during the Nice Treaty referendum?

It didn't work then and it won't work now.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1