[Marxism] New Sinn Fein: the people of no principle

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Sun Dec 10 21:45:01 MST 2006

While Donal attempts on this list to make out that New Sinn Fein is
pursuing some sort of "democratic revolution" in Ireland, instead of
having been converted into a place-seeking constitutional nationalist
party, here's an article that tells it like it is, especially in regard
to how New Sinn Fein tries to smear all the opponents of the sell-out -
from Bernadette (Devlin) McAliskey to Brendan Hughes and now Tony
Catney, until recently a supporter of the leadership.

The article comes from the internet journal The Blanket:

The People of No Principle 

By Geraldine Adams * 3 December 2006
The leadership lies. It knows no such thing as an honest exchange of
opinion. It seeks to blacken those who criticise or challenge it.
Reputations are destroyed. The argument can't be defeated by reason, so
the good name of the person making it must be stamped into the ground. 

Tony Catney's letter in the Irish News covered these points. His sense
of hurt and anger was palpable. Tony's was a welcome contribution to the
current debate about the state of republicanism. But a serious omission
was context. The leadership didn't start practising black propaganda
when Tony left the movement last year. They've been doing it for 12
years now and Tony was there, at a leadership level, when they were
doing it.

In 1994, those who disagreed with the ceasefire and the
British-sponsored peace process were demonised. In 1997, those who left
the Provisional IRA over the Mitchell principles of non-violence were
visited by the Provos and threatened with death. What did Tony make of
that? What did he think when lies were spread about Bernie and Mickey
McKevitt and their contribution to the struggle belittled, as is
happening to Tony's contribution now?

After the 1998 Omagh bomb, when Martin McGuinness encouraged "people
power" against those it was alleged were responsible, did Tony speak out
against this "felon-setting". What did he say when republicans like
Paddy Fox, Brendan Shannon, and a host of others were abducted and
beaten for doing nothing other than being republicans?

When Joe O'Connor was murdered in Ballymurphy, and the Provo lie machine
spun into action, did Tony think of resigning? When the mob picketed
Anthony McIntyre's house, with his heavily pregnant wife inside, did
Tony publicly stand shoulder-to-shoulder with McIntyre in support of
truth and freedom of speech or did he sidestep the issue?

The leadership has tarnished the names of countless republicans who
challenged it long before Tony did. Character assassination is far
easier than logically responding to an argument. Brendan Hughes is an
alcoholic. Anthony McIntyre's head had gone after all those years in
jail and then he was brainwashed by that new American wife who is
probably an FBI agent. Marian Price has been loopy since the
force-feeding. Francie Mackey was jealous of Barry McElduff.

Bernadette Sands couldn't cope with her brother dying on hunger-strike.
Bernadette Devlin never recovered from being shot. Mickey Donnolly's
brain wasn't the same after his 'guinea pig' experience. John Kelly,
Martin Cunningham, and Martin Galvin - slurs were invented about them
all. Some people were written off for doing too long in jail, some for
never having been jailed in the first place. It was claimed that some
were MI5, despite the fact that the only British agents found in recent
years have been in senior Provisional ranks.

Every time a criticism was made, verbally or in print, the timing of the
intervention was said to be suspicious. It was coming at a crucial point
in the peace process and only played into the hands of the enemies of
republicanism. These "crucial points" lasted 24 hours a day, 365 days a

Sinn Fein leaders are the people of no principle who will say or do
anything for power. It wasn't just those within the movement they
demonised. Even journalists, who reported on internal dissent or
uncovered leadership untruths, were targeted: Ed Moloney invented
material for 'A Secret History of the IRA' because he was greedy for the
money from a best-selling book. Strangely, no-one ever mentioned that
Gerry has written far more books than Moloney or asked how much he has
made from them.

Tony has taken a firm stand about the lies he's heard about himself. But
what stand did he take when he heard the lies about others over the
years? Did he believe them? Did he close his ears? Did he ever think of
writing a letter to the paper on their behalf? Indeed, as a former
director of elections, Tony devised strategy to convince voters to
support the people who were spreading lies about good republicans.

I don't want to sound petty or spiteful. There are already far too many
divisions in the ranks of "dissidents" for that. The Provos are laughing
all the way to PSNI headquarters about such squabbles. There is much
more that unites those of us who see through them than divides us.
Tony's contribution to the struggle - 16 years in jail - is far greater
than many of us have made. But republicanism would have been less
damaged if more people like Tony, of obvious intelligence and
capability, had spoken out earlier, instead of so far down the line when
we are now presiding over the wreckage of the republican movement.

No-one was ever reticent about publicly denouncing the SDLP, calling
them all the so-and-sos of the day. So many republicans courageously
stood up to the Brits, verbally and physically, and paid a huge personal
price. Sadly, it must be acknowledged that, when it came to speaking out
against a leadership which sold out the movement and lied through its
teeth, too many were found wanting. The people of no principle were able
to do what they did because their followers were more loyal to
personalities than ideology.

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