Editorial: No going back to the policies of a failed past

Enemies of this community – and there are many – are fond of describing straightforward statements as threats. But it is no threat, simply a bald statement of fact, when we say that if the British and Irish governments think that going back to the bad old days of discrimination and exclusion is a viable option then they are very badly mistaken.

Read our lips: it is not going to happen.

There is no doubt that we find ourselves at a pretty pass: painstakingly constructed political edifices stand or fall on the word of unelected members of the PSNI and the Independent Monitoring Commission and crucial political decisions are taken on the basis of information that we are told absolutely nothing about.
Sinn Féin has to hold its hands up and say that it’s much-vaunted negotiating and political skills have failed to save us from a kind of Orwellian nightmare wherein the fundamental basics of natural justice and fair play have been disappeared and in their place we have government by an anti-republican consensus. This should never have been allowed to happen. There’s not much that republicans can do when their sworn enemies inside the British and Irish governments use the unproven word of their sworn enemies inside the PSNI to act against them. But when the IMC issues its next report – early, no doubt – and another round of unacceptable and inflammatory sanctions are put in place, then we’re entitled to ask, how the hell did that come about? If Sinn Féin didn’t sleepwalk into it, then there’s a case for arguing that the full implications of this extra-Agreement bolt-on weren’t appreciated at the time. It seems clear that we are going to have to act decisively and robustly to ensure that our mandate is recognised and that all our elected representatives are able to represent us without let or hindrance. Imaginative thinking on how best to do that will have to begin now, not months down the line when the forced post-Northern Bank consensus has moved to set up whatever rickety regime the NIO advises them they can get away with. It seems clear, for instance, that the local and Westminster elections will be held on the same day in May. Bertie Ahern has already said that he is not in favour of sanctions in the wake of the £26m robbery – we should at the very least be requiring that anyone who knocks on our doors looking a vote has said the same thing, and put it in writing. Because when Bertie says that he’s against sanctions, he’s saying it in the full knowledge that it’s got damn all to do with him. If the British want to move against Sinn Féin using the fig leaf of another nonsensical IMC report, then they’ll do it. But only if there are nationalists willing to fill the empty seats, which, depressingly, doesn’t appear out of the question at the moment. There seems to be a heave within the SDLP against the Durkan/Hume wing – suggestions that some elements within the party would be happy to represent nationalists and republicans on some kind of cut-and-paste Executive from which Sinn Féin is excluded. That this monumental folly is even being spoken of within the party is evidence of how little some people have learned from our recent history.

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