Sinn Féin bullied other parties with Gaza publicity stunt

Opinion: All of the bigger parties have something to fear if they allow themselves to be intimidated

Mary Lou McDonald: interview showed her rewriting the past

Mary Lou McDonald: interview showed her rewriting the past

Sat, Jul 19, 2014, 01:00

The Dáil adjourned for the summer recess with a publicity stunt from Sinn Féin which served as a reminder to all the other parties of just what a ruthless opponent they face.

It began with an attempt by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald to misrepresent the position adopted by Tánaiste Joan Burton on the appalling situation in Gaza. McDonald unfairly suggested that Burton was more concerned about advising Irish citizens to leave Gaza than with the death and destruction being inflicted on innocent women and children.

It was followed by an intervention out of the blue from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, who called on all members of the Dáil to stand in solidarity with the people of Gaza and the Middle East.

Fianna Fáil and the Independent TDs jumped to their feet immediately and were sheepishly followed by Government Deputies. At this stage a number of the Sinn Féin TDs held up photocopies of the Palestinian flag.

Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett was justifiably furious at having his function usurped. He told Adams that if he ever had a similar proposal in future he should do the chair the courtesy of giving advance notice.

“I do not want to be put in that position ever again,” said Barrett.

The other parties played along with varying degrees of enthusiasm, but some TDs silently fumed at the irony of a party which supported a campaign of terror and murder against the civilian population of its own country attempting to make political capital from the suffering being inflicted on the people of Gaza.

Labour’s Eric Byrne gave voice to that mood. As Sinn Féin TDs worked themselves into a lather about the bombing of innocent women and children, he interjected: “They know all about bombing and how to deliver bombs.”

In the event the Sinn Féin protest didn’t get much media traction but it was an indication of the lengths to which the party will go to try and wrongfoot its opponents at every turn.

An interview with Mary Lou McDonald on the Irish Times website during the week showed how Sinn Féin goes about defending the IRA record of violence by twisting the facts of history to suit its agenda.

Rewriting the past to suit present political objectives is something at which the party has proved adept down the years and both the Coalition parties and Fianna Fáil struggle to find an adequate response.

If they continue to allow themselves to be bullied as they were on Thursday then all of the bigger parties will lose support to Sinn Féin at the next election.

An exchange at a private meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on the final day of the session also exposed another layer of cynical political posturing but this time across party lines.

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