Sunday, April 22, 2007

Election diary: Sinn Fein IRA passé?

Fellow blogger Paul Newton of Newton's Laws takes me to task in his comments on this election diary in which I referred to Sinn Féin/IRA. He reckons that if Ian Paisley can do business with Sinn Féin, maybe it's time to quit calling them by that name.

"You are quite correct that the victims (on both sides) should be acknowledged and remembered and that seeing Sinn Fein in any type of government will stick in the craw of many, but the practical choice is whether to engage or disengage," he writes. "There are many precedents for the engagement with those who have previously been branded terrorists, from Mandela in S.A to the dignity of W.T Cosgrave in handing over to De Valera in 1932."

I used the Sinn Féin/IRA tag to draw attention to Sinn Féin's past which seemed to be absolutely ignored by a Roscommon TV audience who were loud in their praises of Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams. I agree that it would be silly to use this tag all the time but I felt this was a context in which it served a legitimate purpose.

I also agree with him when he says that "not all people who see Sinn Fein as a viable alternative to the 'me fein' political environment we currently live in are or ever were supporters of the IRA," though I am not one of those people.

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