Southern parties accused of ‘trying to criminalise’ legacy of Bobby Sands

McDonald criticises Kenny and Martin over ‘cheap soundbites’ on conflict

Sinn Féin TDs Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Mary Lou McDonald both used their speeches to the ardfheis to criticise Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour for repeatedly criticising Sinn Féin’s role during the 30-year conflict.  Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire.

Sinn Féin TDs Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Mary Lou McDonald both used their speeches to the ardfheis to criticise Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour for repeatedly criticising Sinn Féin’s role during the 30-year conflict. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA Wire.

Mon, Feb 10, 2014, 01:00


Sinn Féin TD Pádraig Mac Lochlainn has accused the main parties in the South of trying to criminalise the legacies of Bobby Sands and the 1981 hunger strikers through repeated attacks on the party’s role in the Troubles.

Mr Mac Lochlainn and party deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald both used their speeches to the ardfheis to criticise Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and Labour for repeatedly criticising Sinn Féin’s role during the 30-year conflict and claiming it was different to the violence that afflicted Irish society in the years surrounding the foundation of the State.


Defence of violence
It was being seen as significant that the strongest defence of the party’s association with violence was made by two of its Southern TDs, both of whom came to prominence after the ceasefire.

“We didn’t let Margaret Thatcher criminalise Bobby Sands and the 1981 hunger strikers and you can be damn sure that we will not let Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael or anyone else criminalise them today,” Mr Mac Lochlainn told delegates.

He told the conference that the Civil War and the War of Independence were both brutal affairs.

“Leinster House is a shrine to violent conflict, yet those who ruled from there demanded that the nationalist people of the Six Counties, living in an apartheid state, should take it lying down,” he said.

Ms McDonald said an argument was being made that in the absence of violence “all was well in the North”.

She criticised those who she said laid the “blame for the conflict at the feet of those communities and individuals who fought back against a rotten sectarian State”.

‘Abuse of suffering’
“Their cynical abuse of the suffering of some victims to avoid answering questions about corruption in this State is shameful. Their exploitation of some victims’ suffering to suit their party political ends and to bolster their election campaigns is utterly dishonourable.

“Instead of resorting to the cheap soundbites in the Dáil it would match Enda Kenny and Micheál Martin better to do what they have been elected to do and stand up for the interests of the people of this country.”

In his speech, party finance spokesman Pearse Doherty claimed the only action the Government had taken with regard to distressed mortgage holders was to help the banks and not those suffering.

“Its much anticipated Personal Insolvency Act is next to useless if your debt is mainly a mortgage with a single bank because the Government gave them a veto,” he said.

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