Tuesday 16 October 2018

For SF to be relevant, it has to let go of the past

Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Collins
Sinn Fein TD Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Collins

The first rule of saying sorry is not to ruin it with an excuse, a temptation Sinn Féin's Barry McElduff couldn't resist when he resigned as MP for West Tyrone. The slaughter at Kingsmill was never a laughing matter. Once more Mr McElduff insisted he never intended to give offence. He even managed to bow out on a note of martyrdom as if to carve a small slice of victimhood for himself. "Reconciliation is essential, but that message is not being heard at this time," he lamented.

Curiously enough, making a joke of an atrocity jars with the spirit of co-operation, trust and community that Sinn Féin is purporting to embrace. It is the opposite of reconciliation, and Mr McElduff ought to know that after 30 years.

Those looking to the soon-to-be new leader of Sinn Féin, Mary Lou McDonald, for a signal of a clean break with the past, and an openness to reaching out, will also have been disappointed. Suspending Mr McElduff for three months was a travesty given that SF members do not even bother to take their seats in Westminster. To describe this "sentence" as proportionate or appropriate shows how out of touch she was with the mood of the country, as what Ms McDonald did was crass.

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