Time for Sinn Féin to “show leadership”

When Unionists of various stripes have been caught breaching the basics of the 1998 and 2006 Agreements and even engaging in hate speech, Sinn Féin has strolled up to the parapet of the moral high ground and demanded that the DUP and others “show leadership”.

I am not one for “whataboutery”, but I’m not one for hypocrisy either. So, after the appalling example of hate speech exhibited by a band at the Ardoyne Fleadh (cheered, note, by hundreds present), we are entitled to suggest that perhaps now is the time for “Ireland’s largest party” to, well, “show leadership”…

Let us be clear, the band was cheered because it expressed a sentiment hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland share – that the “British” have no right in any part of Ireland, that Unionists and other non-Nationalists aren’t really “British”, and that therefore there is no place for “Britishness” at all in contemporary Ireland. These sentiments are utterly unacceptable – partly because they simply are given the reality of contemporary Ireland, and partly because we all signed up to binning them in 1998. That includes Sinn Féin.

I have ranted ad nauseam about how the 1998 and 2006 Agreements – and, more importantly, basic common decency – require Unionists to come to terms with the Irish national identity and citizenship held and cherished by many of their co-citizens in Northern Ireland. However, that absolutely works both ways. Required also by those Agreements is respect for British national identity and citizenship, and also for the constitutional position of Northern Ireland within the UK. It is understandable that people who grew up fundamentally opposed to Britishness and all it stood for and believing that the constitutional position is the result of a terrible historical injustice would have difficulty with this, which is precisely why it requires those who signed up to it while recognising the need to compromise to “show leadership”.

What happened at the Belfast Mela, at the Cenotaph commemoration of the outbreak of World War One, and at Belfast City Hall’s Peace Vigil was a recognition of our different national identities but also of our common citizenship. What happened at the Ardoyne Fleadh was a disgraceful hate-filled rant which has no place in post-Agreement Northern Ireland, and which should probably be prosecuted for incitement to further hatred.  Let’s hear Sinn Féin say so – no ifs, no buts.

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4 thoughts on “Time for Sinn Féin to “show leadership”

  1. In a way, the band member’s comments were even worse. He called for all the “Orange brothers” (sic) to go back to England, which displays (1) ignorance of the Ulster Plantation and (2) sectarianism against all Protestants in Ireland.

    Reminds me of having to correct some Southerners’ description of the Irish tricolour as “green, white and gold”.

    So much for civic republicanism.

  2. Dominic Hendron says:

    We need to take exhibitions of raw republicanism for what they are, anachronisms that are not taken seriously by the vast majority of Irish people and only have context in Felon’s clubs and certain unionist mindsets. You only have to look at the current leader of political Unionism to see where the real failure of leadership lies.

    • That’s pure whataboutery.

      The crowd, predominantly of locals, cheered the remarks loudly. This is a demonstration of the obvious fact that the views expressed are very much shared by vast numbers of the populace in Ardoyne, as they are elsewhere.

      A lot of work has to be done on this rampant Anglophobia and on the chilling disrespect shown and expressed too often by so-called “Republicans” to those who regard themselves as British and towards their identity as British nationals.

      All that said, Sinn Féin did get around to at least a half-hearted condemnation. Not enough, but something, in fairness.

  3. Dominic Hendron says:

    There is no real evidence of widespread “Anglophobia” in Ireland, that’s a red herring. A patronising out of touch southerner made a stupid speech to get the crowd going in a north Belfast “ghetto” Let’s concentrate on the very real issues like sectarianism and racism

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