Fionnan Sheahan: 'Cult-like' Sinn Fein not suitable for coalition
Party's 'mask slipped' in response to Smithwick tribunal revelations
SINN Fein is now viewed as an "untouchable" potential coalition party in the wake of its controversial response to the murder of RUC officers by the Provisional IRA and accusations of cover-ups of IRA abuse.
The party's defence of the fallout from the Smithwick tribunal has been compared to a "North Korean news broadcaster".
The justification by Gerry Adams and the party's new generation of Pearse Doherty, Mary Lou McDonald and Padraig MacLochlainn of IRA atrocities is seen in political circles as a wake-up call for anyone who felt Sinn Fein had changed.
Junior minister Brian Hayes said Sinn Fein was a "fanatical, quasi-political outfit" that wants to rewrite our recent past at all costs, as a means of taking control.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin said the events of the past fortnight have damaged the party's chances of getting into power as "the mask slipped".
Labour Party TD Ged Nash questioned if the next generation in Sinn Fein was any different to Mr Adams.
Mr Hayes said what was shocking this past week was not Mr Adams's comments, but the "relentless, zombie-like defence" of the new Sinn Fein TDs.
"Everyone held the line. No one spoke out. No one questioned his judgement in what he had to say. They didn't run for cover. On the contrary, they embraced it as a North Korean news broadcaster might do in defending the regime," he said.
The Fine Gael minister acknowledged Sinn Fein has a number of "talented young parliamentarians", but they continue to look like a bunch of "young fanatics".
"Their inability to publicly question, even in a moderate way, the leader of their party, shines a horrible truth on the cult-like 'party' that Sinn Fein is. I've noticed the same tactics on economic debates.
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"It is not a normal political party. And while those younger TDs refuse to speak out or to at least question what the IRA did, they will continue to look like a bunch of young fanatics totally disconnected from the reality of what the IRA did to this country," he said. Mr Martin said the Sinn Fein attitude would make people "think more than twice" about considering the party as fit for government.
"I think the mask slipped, particularly with the performance of Gerry Adams and Padraig MacLochlainn. It was an attempt to construct an argument that backfired spectacularly," he said.
"All of the careful repackaging came apart. Sinn Fein hasn't changed. There might be new faces but it's the same message. It will have a very negative impact on their prospects of getting into government with anybody after the next general election," he added.
Mr Martin said his party's concerns about Sinn Fein's economic policies and their lack of credibility precluded them as a coalition option.
But the party's behaviour this past week merely confirmed these reservations were well founded.
"We don't see ourselves going into government with Sinn Fein. We don't see them as suitable coalition partners. What's happened this week has strengthened that view," he said. Mr Nash who shares Mr Adams's Louth constituency, said people were "perplexed" by Sinn Fein's response to the Smithwick tribunal.
"For the umpteenth time in the last few weeks, Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein have shown themselves to be completely tone deaf on public opinion in the south and knowing the difference between right and wrong. It shows they are out of step.
"For most people in the south, the Troubles meant the IRA killing children in shopping centres in England and blowing people up while they were at prayer," he said
"I think Gerry Adams has shown how they constantly feel they have to justify 30 years of murder and mayhem."