OPINION: Losing the plot when Sinn Féin mentioned

May 22nd, 2017 12:00 PM

By Southern Star Team

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Shinners and Gerry Adams like red rag to a bull for Fianna Fáil leader

Shinners and Gerry Adams like red rag to a bull for Fianna Fáil leader

HAS our dear leader-in-waiting, Micheál Martin, lost the plot? You see, we’re kinda concerned at the red haze that descends on his bright and cultivated brain whenever two expressions are uttered. The unbearable locutions are ‘Gerry Adams’ and ‘Sinn Féin.’

On hearing those words, Martin seems to fasten on something in the future – an appalling vista, perhaps – and for some moments he is unable to respond in a way that appeals to the powers of reasoning and logic. It is as if he suddenly finds himself in the presence of something so ghastly that it fills him with repugnance; which may well have accounted for the weirdness of the comments that he made recently in Arbour Hill, Dublin, at a Fianna Fáil commemoration of the 1916 Rising.  

We suspect that this involuntary contraction of well-reasoned thoughts had its origins in an event on June 29th, 1986, when Mickey was a mere Corpo councillor on his way up the greasy pole. On that ill-omened occasion, the Ballyphehane Community Association allowed Sinn Féin to hold a meeting in its community centre. 

Needless to say, ‘responsible’ politicos of the Fine Gael variety boycotted the event and demanded that the City Council block other associations from loaning their halls for republican meetings. But Mickey, to his credit, went to the meeting and tackled Gerry Adams on the usual stuff: the military campaign, nothing achieved, etc, etc.


No surrender

Sad to relate, a frolicsome ‘meeja’ reported that Martin’s presence at the meeting was a sign that Fianna Fáil and Sinn Féin shared similar views on basic issues. 

 Nothing could have been further from the truth. It was a below-the-belt comment and an allegation that has dogged Martin ever since. Indeed he’s been denying any liaison with SF right down to the present day.  To add to his woes, crypto-provos in his own party strongly promoted the idea that the two ‘republican’ parties have enough in common to form a government should the occasion arise –and it well might after the next general election. 

As far as Martin is concerned, coalition between Sinn Féin and the Soldiers of Destiny can happen only over his dead body, politically or otherwise, and – as he said in a major speech in March 2014 – not even the replacement of Gerry Adams as Sinn Féin leader would be enough to secure a deal with that party.

For many punters, his position of ‘not an inch and no surrender’ is difficult to understand. It is as if Mickey is stuck in a Ballyphehane time warp of political and moral indignation. 

And then came his Arbour Hill (of all places) comments where his banzai-style attack on Sinn Féin was premised on ‘the failure of Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin to dissociate themselves from the Provisional IRA.’  


False facts

To which we say: ‘Ah, hang on there, Mister Martin. Where have you been since April 10th, 1998 when your boss, Don Berto, your party, and the entire political Establishment North and South, agreed that the Good Friday Agreement was the cornerstone of peace and reconciliation, and that the IRA was a thing of the past?’ Snoozing in the land of Nod?

And, what did he mean by this cryptic observation: ‘There were still many appalling stories to emerge from the illegitimate campaign of the Provisional IRA that had to receive proper attention in the Dublin media?’  

The Dublin media! Appalling stories! Cripes, has the man read any of the lurid tales written by notorious eccentrics in newspapers such as the Indo/Sindo? 

According to Martin, ‘the hidden leadership of the Provisional  movement retained the right to kill and maim in our name in spite of constant rejection. For them it retained the right to bomb civilians, to kneecap children and to have a parallel and secret justice system devoted to covering up the crimes of their members.’

Now, that’s a shocking and alarming assertion if he was referring to the current situation in the Six Counties because it renders the Good Friday Agreement worthless.

 If intended only for party-political reasons it was despicable, and unworthy of someone who might be Taoiseach this time next year.


Complex background

Maybe Martin was jocosely talking through his hat or that The Irish Times reported his pronouncements somewhat clumsily? Certainly, the confusion was compounded when he said: ‘The agreed future ratified by the referendums North and South recognised, for the first time in history, the right of the people of Ireland to decide its future.’ 

True, but as pointed out by a perspicacious commentator on the ‘Cedar Lounge Revolution’ website, ‘it was the “agreed future” and those “referendums” that explicitly brought Sinn Féin to the heart of that process, and in such a way as to make it difficult to sustain the sort of attacks on Sinn Féin that Martin engages in.’ 

The writer added: ‘It’s a sort of running with and against the logic of the Good Friday Agreement simultaneously. He’s trying the old trick of saying that SF today is essentially SF in 1987 and, in order to sustain that attack, he has to leap back in time, prior to the Good Friday Agreement. His argument attempts to position SF in a narrative where little has changed.’

Put simply, Martin doesn’t make sense, which raises questions about the impact his visceral loathing of Sinn Féin has had on his political thinking, Indeed historians already feel curious about the extent to which Mickey’s political attitudes were shaped by diverse influences when growing up in Turners Cross. 

His maternal grandfather took part in the IRA Knocklong ambush of 1919. His paternal grandfather served in the British army and two of his uncles followed in the family tradition and also joined the British Armed Forces – as did one of the four Martin brothers.

On the other hand, his father, Paddy Martin, joined the Irish Army. In the 1980s, he publicly and bravely supported the National H-Block campaign in Cork. It called for an end to the beatings and torture of Republican prisoners in Armagh and the Maze prisons.

Certainly son Mickey has a complex political background and one to provoke curiosity for years to come!


‘Ethnic cleansing’

And now for something different: Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer pulled no punches when he described the proliferation of student apartments around CIT and UCC as a form of ‘ethnic cleansing.’

College Road and Magazine Road have been turned into slums and now a development outfit is about to slam another nail in the coffin. It wants to build a five storey apartment complex on Melbourn Road in Bishopstown; and residents blame UCC.

An infuriated householder angrily told this newspaper: ‘Those shaggin’ professors of French letters don’t give a damn. Rectal thermometers should be banned for that lot. They cause too much brain damage!’


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