Sunday 17 December 2017

Martin to tell FF 1916 event: 'SF unfit for democratic government'

Fianna Fail leader to launch blistering attack on Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald today

Michael Martin
Michael Martin
Jody Corcoran

Jody Corcoran

Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin will launch a blistering attack on Sinn Fein at the annual 1916 Commemoration at Arbour Hill today, describing the party as "unfit for participation in a democratic republican government".

Mr Martin will say even the "'clean new faces" of Sinn Fein are wedded to the approach that they can stand judge and jury over everyone; that if they have decided on something, that is the end of the discussion: "They don't debate, they enforce - and when challenged they attack."

Mr Martin will say no member of the "Provisional movement" has yet lifted a finger to address the widespread abuse of children by its members and the systematic covering-up to this day. "They shot children in the streets for defying them and they turned a blind eye to the abuse of children."

He will say: "It is a harrowing and humbling experience to meet with their victims. To be in the company of people whose childhoods were brutally destroyed, and who have fought through enormous obstacles, to show bravery unknown to the cowards who lead the movement which denied them justice.

"And let us not fall for the line that this is about the distant past when there was a so-called war on.

"The covering up of abuse, the protection of abusers from legal and public justice, continued well after the ceasefires, and happened on both sides of the border.

"It is also something which the leader and deputy leader of Sinn Fein have confirmed they knew about. Both have said that it is 'unfortunate' and that the Provisional IRA was 'not suited' to carry out this policing role, but that it was inevitable because of the circumstances.

"In spite of their call for people to come forward with evidence, yet again, no one has. Just like when dozens of Sinn Fein members refused to give evidence of who killed a man in front of a full public bar - a movement renowned for its discipline in everything cannot persuade them to come forward and give justice to their victims.

"We cannot, and we must not, let these people succeed in their campaign to claim the mantle of republicanism.

"They are not republicans. They put their interests and, without fail, their movement first. They reserve the right to decide what rules they follow. They do not accept that in a republic, we are all bound by the same laws."

Mr Martin will say "the political party which carries the name Sinn Fein" has aggressively promoted the "false claim" that it has some connection to 1916 and to the volunteers who fought then.

This was part of a wider agenda to try to "falsify recent Irish history and claim legitimacy for the sectarian campaign of murder and intimidation" which they carried out for 30 years, he will say.

"Let no one be in any doubt, Provisional Sinn Fein and the Provisional IRA have no connection with 1916. To claim otherwise is a dangerous and cynical lie.

"Through this attempt to claim a link with 1916, Sinn Fein and the movement they are part of, is insulting and undermining the place of the Rising in our national identity.

"Their claim to historical continuity basically says that 1916 changed nothing - that no new possibilities were opened up, no new methods became available.

"The men and women of 1916 themselves knew that this was nonsense - because they embraced the fact that their fight had opened up immense new possibilities for Ireland.

"Within two years, they won the overwhelming democratic endorsement of the Irish people. And they went on to found democratic parties, adopt a republican constitution and commit themselves to achieving national objectives in new ways.

"But the arrogance of Gerry Adams and his both public and secret comrades goes much further and is much more dangerous than this. If the justification for the Provisionals' campaign is that they had a right to ignore the repeated opposition of the Irish people and to fight until everything was achieved, then why can't someone else claim that today?

"Why can't the dissidents of today claim the same legitimacy the Provisionals claim? Why are their bombs and murder unacceptable while those of the Provisionals were OK?

"The people of Ireland were just as uniformly opposed to the Provisionals as they are to the fringe movements of today. This goes to the heart of why Sinn Fein remains unfit for participation in a democratic republican government. They are no longer seen as a movement engaged in murdering people, and this remains a great achievement for democratic parties that worked to get them to stop the killing.

"But what they have refused to do is acknowledge that they were always wrong. By claiming legitimacy for their campaign, they refuse to acknowledge the right of the Irish people to oppose and reject them.

"They refuse to acknowledge that they fought against this state. They killed servants of this republic and worked to destroy its institutions," Mr Martin will say.

Sunday Independent

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