Wary of Sinn Féin in government?

A chara, – John A Murphy in his article “Why we should be wary of Sinn Féin in government” (Opinion & Analysis, July 9th) states that: “Sinn Féin constantly claims to be more republican than the rest of us”. This is untrue. I have consistently stated that Sinn Féin has no monopoly on republicanism.

What is true, however, is that for several decades the word “republican” was virtually excised from political discourse in this State, not least due to the efforts of revisionist historians such as John A Murphy. I am pleased to inform the professor, however, that the growth of Sinn Féin has indeed contributed to a popularising of republican ideals.While claiming that “we are all republicans”, Prof Murphy, in the same breath, dismisses the aim of bringing Orange and Green together as “aspirational waffle”.This narrow, partitionist view rejects the approach underpinning the idea of national reconciliation and is a rejection of an inclusive definition of Irishness.

Incredibly, Prof Murphy accuses Sinn Féin of “breath-taking revisionism” for unequivocally supporting a peace process of which we were one of the architects! What is really breathtaking is the deficiency of the professor’s understanding of the most significant political development on this island since partition, namely the Belfast Agreement.

He asserts that planning for Irish unity is “a very negation of the peace process”.

However, the agreement, endorsed by the vast majority of people who share this island, explicitly provides for a peaceful path to Irish unity and Bunreacht na hÉireann was amended on that basis. Sinn Féin negotiated for this. If such a provision was absent Irish republicans and democrats would not have signed up for it. As John Hume said, it could not be an internal settlement.

What Sinn Féin is attempting to do is unprecedented. It hasn’t been done before and arguably it hasn’t been tried. We are trying to build, in two parts of a partitioned island, a national political project that transcends the border, that doesn’t succumb to partitionism, that is cohesive and continuously moving forward.

Rather than worrying about Sinn Féin, which he has been doing for as long as I can remember, perhaps Prof Murphy should look at whether this State is a real republic. Surely a rights-based, citizen-centred society would not depend on emigration as a policy choice and would protect the elderly, the young and citizens who are ill through the lack of provision of decent public services. – Is mise,


Leinster House,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – John A Murphy’s article was brilliant. It’s easy to forget recent history, to fall into line with views promoted by commentators too young to remember the realities of the past. They lack the knowledge or insight which John A brings to the topic. Despite its electoral success, Sinn Féin is still only a slightly constitutional party. – Yours, etc,



Co Tipperary.