The existential question we and Sinn Fein have to answer after last week is a simple one. Can it really be safe to hand the keys of power to a party which is in such disarray over its capacity to handle the issue of child abuse amongst its own members and associates? Amidst the old Fianna Fail-style revivalism of Sinn Fein's Derry Ard Fheis, their new 'respectability' was epitomised by the declaration by ICTU President John Douglas that he was looking forwards to working with a 'progressive' party like Sinn Fein north and south of the border.
In fairness to Mr Douglas, his view is not uncommon. Increasingly, we are told the time has now come to take a 'pragmatic' approach to Sinn Fein. Such a view is informed by the uniquely Irish misapprehension that pragmatism is some kind of virtue. Sometimes it may be. But, more often than not, particularly in Ireland, pragmatism is the child of cowardice and indolence. Pragmatism and the love of the politics of the possible have held up reform of every sort from the decriminalisation of homosexuality to divorce in Ireland. The pragmatism of social partnership rotted Irish governance from the head down, while the same ideology stayed the hand of the self-interested Ahern administration from moving earlier to save the Celtic Tiger. Then, when that child of pragmatism collapsed, we were told the only response to this was the pragmatism of austerity.
The great apogee of pragmatic politics was the peace process. When this began with the Hume-Adams talks, this paper warned that Irish democracy was engaged in an act of appeasement which could yet evolve into a Trojan horse that would fatally corrupt the state. Our concern that short-term gain would lead to long-term rot has been fully borne out. Back when Hume-Adams began talks, the SDLP were the dominant nationalist party and Sinn Fein were the marginalised representatives of a militarily defeated IRA. Since then, SF have become the dominant nationalist party in the North. In the South, meanwhile, a party with unresolved issues over the IRA's sexual abuse - of children and adults - murder and fundraising is poised to become our largest party.
This prospect has been the conduit for burgeoning whispers from the advocates of pragmatism who tell us to cease the 'holding Sinn Fein to account' thing. Let it be, it is not losing Sinn Fein votes, is the line. There are, however, more important things in a functioning democracy than votes. The abuse of children and the murder of mothers cannot, no matter how nicely Martin McGuinness asks, be consigned to historical commissions.
If anything, it is, instead, time to become far less polite to the most morally decadent party in Irish political history. Built on IRA foundations of silence, murder, sectarian Catholicism, cunning, environmental vandalism, crime, amorality and the exiling of dissenters and sex abusers alike, as a party they represent a far greater threat to the future political health of the Republic than the failed Fianna Fail experiment.
Truth can be inconvenient and appeasement is often the ticket to an easier life. In the case of Sinn Fein, we say pragmatism be damned; we will speak the truth about Sinn Fein whether we are liked for it or not. It is called informing the electorate.
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Panos Kammenos, Greek Defence Minister.
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Kevin Doran, Bishop of Elphin, on abortion, who also suggested homosexuality was no more God's plan than spina bifida or Down syndrome.
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Meir Dagan, former head of Mossad, on Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu.
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Tom Brabazon, FF councillor.
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Dr Gabrielle McMullin, Sydney-based vascular surgeon.
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Senator Eamonn Coghlan, former champion athlete.
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Tony Abbot, Australian PM, on withdrawing funding for remote Aborigine settlements.
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Oliver Shovlin who told Letterkenny Court he drank 'near on 15 pints' of Guinness before being arrested.
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