Eoghan Harris: Sinn Fein's Scientology is the cult of 'moving on'
Published 08/07/2012 | 05:00
LAST Thursday, I went for my six-monthly cancer check-up, which involves a general anaesthetic. Mr David Quinlan, my consultant, and Mr Pat Benson, my anaesthetist, did their skilled stuff. But this time they gave me a bonus.
I came out of the chemical sleep with a clear mind. In that moment of clarity, I finally faced the facts. Those of us in public life who fought a 40-year campaign to counter ambivalence about the IRA's armed struggle have failed completely.
Like Scientology, Sinn Fein is a cult which targets young people. And it is winning the battle for the hearts and minds of the rising generation in the Irish Republic. Ask your teenage children, tune in to any student debate, consult any political website.
Sinn Fein scientologists dominate the internet and the third-level colleges. Their story of victimhood is the one with status. Like all cults, it is almost impossible to break its leech-like grip on those growing up without a moral story of their own.
What is the secret of Sinn Fein's success in the Republic? After all it now stands for nothing. It is neither traditionally nationalist nor socialist. So why is it now the second largest party in the State?
The answer is that it performs in front of a giant back projection when recruiting in the Republic. The screen constantly plays a Sinn Fein version of Leni Riefenstahl's Triumph Of The Will. That movie is called 'Conflation Once Again'.
Conflation is the secret of Sinn Fein's success. Basically, it peddles the big lie that because Sinn Fein-IRA made peace in Northern Ireland it must be rewarded by State power in the Irish Republic.
Conflation means that every Sinn Fein propagandist who speaks on RTE television or to students in third-level colleges in the Republic constantly conjures up images from the Northern IRA movie. The subliminal message is: because we suffered up there, don't ask us awkward questions down here.
Sinn Fein scientologists succeed because they bank on us not setting a separate moral standard for this State. They say if Northern Ireland has to suck up the murder of RUC officers, we must suck up the murder of Det Garda Jerry McCabe.
Conflation causes constant moral confusion. Instead of nailing Sinn Fein's northern narrative as nothing more than an apologia for atrocity, our politicians pay lip service to the Sinn Fein narrative or listen to it with the silence that argues assent.
In the presidential election, no political party in the Irish Republic -- and certainly not RTE -- challenged the narrative of Martin McGuinness: that Northern Ireland was close to a Nazi state, occupied by thousands of British troops who oppressed the Roman Catholic people and that the only answer to this was armed struggle.
Fine Gael's current leader, Enda Kenny, could not even come up with one hard reason to reject Sinn Fein on The Late Late Show. Fianna Fail subscribes to so much of the nationalist narrative on Northern Ireland that it cannot challenge Sinn Fein with any conviction. But the Labour Party is the worst.
The former members of the Workers Party in Labour's ranks have betrayed their better angels. Instead of being a bastion against Sinn Fein, they took up the Trot line of least resistance, promoting and petting former members of left factions which once gave "conditional support" to the armed struggle.
This political cowardice has corrupted the Republic's instinctive resistance to republican violence. So when Martin McGuinness played the conflation tune to Miriam O'Callaghan she had to listen respectfully to his mantra about moving on.
But if we move on, we miss the manipulation. McGuinness told Ms O'Callaghan he regretted the deaths of all victims. He included the RUC and members of the British Army. But he did not mention gardai.
Why did he leave out the gardai ? Why did he implicitly regret the murders of 279 members of the RUC but make no mention of the murders of six gardai in the Irish Republic, the most notorious of which was the murder of Garda Jerry McCabe?
Why? Because it might dent the delusions of the third-level tribalists who call northern Protestants "lodgers" on internet sites. Might make these moral neuters pause a moment before shrugging it off as Sunday Independent propaganda and talk about "moving on" when they are really only moving off.
Every second day, we are told that Sinn Fein is doing well with those doing doctorates. But an education in media studies is not an education in morals. And the useful idiots from our third-level colleges who are currently signing up with the Sinn Fein scientologists will need strong stomachs.
They will be joining a party whose hard side still reveres the IRA women who, on March 10, 1971, lured three teenage squaddies of the Royal Highland Fusiliers from a Belfast pub. Two of the three were teenage brothers. They were driven to a remote location and shot dead whilst relieving themselves by the roadside.
They will be joining a party where they can rub shoulders with some of the people who kidnapped Jean McConville on December 7, 1972, just 18 days before Christmas, leaving her 10 children alone in their flat. She was tortured, murdered secretly buried and her name systematically smeared.
They will be joining a party where they will learn to live with lies. Like the lie about the Provos defending the Catholic people from the Brits and Prods.
In fact, the IRA killed 49 per cent of the total of 3,466 people -- and killed more Catholics than the UDA, the UVF or the British Army.
They will be joining a party which is not really a party. They will be joining a cult. Because the main aim of any cult is to perpetuate that cult. Here Sinn Fein has a lot in common with Scientology.
Sinn Fein, like Scientology, now stands for nothing except to exist and expand. Because if the national question is no more and socialism is only a slogan, what exactly does Sinn Fein stand for in this State?
The answer is that Sinn Fein stands for nothing except naked power. It has reached saturation point in Northern Ireland. So everything it does is directed now at the Irish Republic.
But conflation cuts both ways. If Sinn Fein wants to win State power in the Republic, it must play down the details of its politically pointless and murderous past in Northern Ireland. RTE has been a huge help in that revision.
The leaders of Sinn Fein want to love themselves. Now that they have secured the keys of the house they want to forget the foul deeds that darken their title deeds. To adapt TS Eliot, they are "absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves".
To this end they have recruited much of the media and a large section of the Irish intelligentsia to help them revise their recent history. If it goes on like this, Sinn Fein will be in government in both states not long after 2016.
What they will do with State power in the decades after that is hidden in darkness. With luck, I will not be around to look into that abyss. This gormless generation is marching mindlessly behind a Provo piper and nobody knows where they are going.