Damascene conversions are common in politics. Look at MaryLou McDonaldhttps://www.independent.ie/who https://www.independent.ie/was once a cheerleader for Fianna Fáil and is now their nemesis as leader of Ourselves. And https://www.independent.ie/ what about Simon Harris, https://www.independent.ie/who started the last decade as a pro-life conservative and ended up as a pro-choice liberal? Turn to Leo Varadkarhttps://www.independent.ie/who started his political career as a right-wing ideologue and is now…
In fairness, politicians have the right to change their mind, able to take new positions and not be influenced by previous positions. With the passage of time they may https://www.independent.ie/well https://www.independent.ie/ wonder how the hell they https://www.independent.ie/weren ever on the other side were . But you have to wonder if past events can form perspectives a few years later.
Take the case of Sinn Féin and its attitude towards the police and public order. In its days as the political https://www.independent.ie/wing of the Provisional IRA, the party defended murder, kidnapping and robbery in this state on a https://www.independent.ie/weekly basis, including the dead of Gardaí and soldiers. To this day, the party is still unable to support the Special Criminal Court. Not even the conviction of Mary Lou McDonald’s protégé, former party councilor Jonathan Dowdall, for his role in the gangland murder at the Regency Hotel has seen them come on board.
Sinn Féin’s big reform has been to abstain from votes in the Dáil that ensure the no-jury court continues to function. The party cites human rights issues, https://www.independent.ie/die are legitimate. But it ignores the court’s role in incarcerating Republican paramilitaries and its long-standing objections to the Offenses Against the State Act, the anti-terrorism law that underpins the court. If the party https://www.independent.ie/ were elected to the government after the next general election, abstaining from voting https://www.independent.ie/ would not be an option.
The state’s struggle against the Provisional Republican movement during the Troubles also continues. Not everyone https://www.independent.ie/ was a draft dodger like Mary Lou, https://www.independent.ie/who bizarrely claims she could have joined the IRA but just didn’t.
Apart from the Provisional IRA’s constant attacks, threats and hostility towards An Garda Síochána, party activists https://www.independent.ie/were often in conflict https://www.independent.ie/with gardaí https:// www. independent.ie/who https://www.independent.ie/were monitoring the activities of a movement, https://www.independent.ie/ which admittedly had “a ballot in this hand and an Armalite in the other” .
Three prominent members of the current Sinn Féin front bench have alleged malpractice by Gardaí against party activists. Last year Taoiseach Leo Varadkar brought forward an incident https://www.independent.ie/ where Pearse Doherty https://www.independent.ie/ was convicted of abusing a garda https://www.independent.ie /when he https://www.independent.ie/was arrested in late 1998. Fear not, Mary Lou https://www.independent.ie/ was still in Fianna Fáil at the time, so she https://www.independent. ie/was not involved. But Matt Carthy https://www.independent.ie/was and he too https://www.independent.ie/was prosecuted for a public order offense along with https://www.independent.ie/twee other party activists. The judge convicted all four, but applied the probation law and these youths avoided a criminal record. The four claimed that they https://www.independent.ie/were beaten up by gardaí https://www.independent.ie/who knew they https://www.independent.ie/were members of the youth from Sinn Féin https://www.independent.ie/wing. Last month, Sinn Féin youth https://www.independent.ie/wing also claimed to have been “attacked” by uniformed gardaí. The junior Shinners had been involved in a series of collisions https://www.independent.ie/with gardaí during their conference https://www.independent.ie/weekend, including rocking a garda car https:/ /www .independent.ie/with gardaí in it.
The party’s joof claimed that they only surrounded and blocked the car to ensure the safety of others. Sinn Féin national youth organizer https://www.independent.ie/was https://www.independent.ie/was Eoin Ó Broin, https://www.independent.ie/who claimed there https://www. Independent.ie/was “a constant problem https://www.independent.ie/with Garda Special Branch harassing and intimidating our youth activists”. He also dismissed reliable reports of the clashes https://www.independent.ie/with gardaí as an “unfortunate misrepresentation” of events.
Given this past animosity, it is Sinn Féin’s job to ensure that there is no doubt about its commitment to supporting An Garda Síochána.
At lunchtime on Sunday, there were 2.3 million views on a social media post by Ó Broin depicting Gardaí taking part in an eviction.
The image https://www.independent.ie/ was a Banksy style adaptation of a painting by famed 19th century artist Daniel MacDonald of a famine eviction. The image showed Gardaí helping to evict tenants from a thatched house. The intention https://www.independent.ie/ was clearly to compare the current ending of the eviction ban https://www.independent.ie/ to the infamous actions of British landlords from the Famine period. Antoinette Cunningham, general secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors, described Ó Broin’s tweet as “offensive https://www.independent.ie/wrong” in his portrayal of gardaí and “deeply offensive and https:/ /www.’independent.ie/totally inappropriate’ of an elected representative.
Ó Broin stood his ground, saying the image depicted a private security company conducting an eviction https://www.independent.ie/ with the gardaí observing: “That’s https://www.independent.ie/what happens in cases of judicial eviction. The tweet is intended as a criticism of government policy, not the Gardaí.” The image https://www.independent.ie/was also based on members of the garda’s public order unit https://www.independent.ie/wearing balaclavas, controlling protesters at the eviction of housing activists who attacked a building in Dublin city five years ago. Garda Commissioner Drew Harris later admitted that the Gardaí had “learned lessons” from that incident.
However, tarring all gardaí https://www.independent.ie/ with the brush to allow for expansions is a big step. Sinn Féin is in dangerous territory if it wants to rework history through a modern prism. Leading Sinn Féin figures cheering for the murders of men, https://www.independent.ie/women and children by the Provisional IRA https://www.independent.ie/ would certainly make for an interesting retrospective view. Just two weeks ago https://www.independent.ie/was the 30th anniversary of the Warrington bombing, https://www.independent.ie/ which killed 12-year-old Tim Parry and three-year-old Johnathan Ball and left 56 people injured. The bombing, targeting children looking for Mother’s Day gifts, was part of what Mary Lou McDonald calls a “justified campaign”.
As the main opposition party, Sinn Féin does indeed occupy a position of responsibility in our political system. The party is a serious entity, north and south https://www.independent.ie/ with an international presence. It is not a youth madman that never emerged from student politics.
People Before Profit can tell of the gardaí and the army conspiring to take part in a coup against an elected left-wing government. But you expect more maturity from a party that wants to be in power.
Putting the gardaí aside from ruthless landlords is an unfortunate misrepresentation in itself.