Republicanism will survive

"REPUBLICANS IN crisis"; "Major blow to the republican movement"; "Republicans on the back foot".

How many times have we read headlines like this in the past few months.

Ever since the Northern Bank raid, but even more so since the tragic killing of Robert McCartney, and the subsequent cover up by IRA members, the press in Ireland and Britain has been telling us how 'republicanism' is in trouble.

The press frenzy over Sinn Fein's woes have grown increasingly shrill, and have often led to misrepresentations. Apparently, Martin McGuinness's cautionary note to the McCartney's not to become political pawns was a 'threat' if certain sections of the UK media (and their even more rabid friends at the Irish Independent) are to be believed, despite the fact that a cursory glance at his statement proved that it was nothing of the kind.

Similarly, it has been broadly reported that Gerry Adams was not invited to the White House, apparently a clear indicator of US distaste towards Sinn Fein. Yet it was rarely mention that this distaste extended to the DUP, the UUP and the SDLP as well. The withdrawal of the invitation seems much more to do with US frustration with all the players in the peace process than any specific party.

No matter where Sinn Fein turn they are greeted by gleeful hand rubbing, as people queue to predict their demise.

This is not to say, of course, that they don't have certain cases to answer, but the rush to condemn them has seen every attempt to answer portrayed as cynical and intimidatory, when this is not the case.

The past few months cannot fail to have disheartened many republicans, as the main republican party has been left reeling from blows from all sides. But the esential point here is that while Sinn Fein are the main face of Irish republicanism these days, they are not republicanism itself. Republicanism, by its very nature, is an ideology which lives in the hearts of the people, and cannot be owned by any one group. It is not owned by Sinn Fein, it is not owned by the IRA, it is not even owned by the readers of the Irish Democrat It belongs to all of us and none of us.

Republicanism, equally, is indomitable and will will not be cowed by pressure. The republican movement will survive this current crisis, as it has survived many before,

Another wrong to be righted

Tony Blair's apology to the Guildford Four and Maguire Seven should be applauded. While many have carped about the fact that he, of course, was not personally responsible for the wrongful convictions, it is worth bearing in mind that as head of the British government, he represents that state, and in a sense, an apology from the state acknowledges that it was not just the individual fault of those involved, but the fault of an institution which held, at its heart, racism, bigotry, and a malevolence towards Irish people.

Thankfully, we seem to have moved on a little from that point, but not enough. There are other ways that Mr Blair and his government could atone for past crimes, and one in particular where they can atone for something they are directly responsible for.

The killers of Peter McBride are still employed by the British army. Both convicted murderers, they were reinstated into an organisation which claims not to tolerate criminality. Their reinstatement happened on Mr Blair's watch, and he should right this wrong now.

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This document was last modified by David Granville on 2005-04-28 16:36:18.
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