Martin criticises Irish and British governments for failure on peace process issues

FF leader attacks Sinn Féin’s claim to 1916 link

 Micheál Martin laying a  wreath at the Fianna Fáil Easter Rising commemoration at Arbour Hill, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Micheál Martin laying a wreath at the Fianna Fáil Easter Rising commemoration at Arbour Hill, Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke


The Fianna Fáil leader has criticised the Irish and British governments for failing to use the close relations between the two countries to address the remaining Northern peace process issues.

Micheál Martin said relations between the two peoples were deep and growing closer.

“Unfortunately, the relations between our political leaders are becoming more superficial and focused on talks rather than action,’’ he added. “Today there is nothing like the close working relationships between Albert Reynolds and John Major, Bertie Ahern and Tony Blair and Brian Cowen and Gordon Brown. ’’

Mr Martin said those former Fianna Fáil taoisigh knew that symbolism was important, but they always put substance first.

“In doing this they achieved great things in our bilateral relations,’’ he added. He said every breakthrough in the peace process relied on the close working relationship and commitment to shared action of taoisigh, prime ministers and their senior ministers.

Addressing Fianna Fáil’s annual 1916 commemoration in Arbour Hill, Dublin, yesterday, Mr Martin said for the first time, and with predictable results, the governments had left sensitive negotiation in the hands of Sinn Féin and the DUP.

Growing dysfunction
They had allowed a growing dysfunction in the Assembly and Northern Ireland Executive and, worst of all, they had failed to do anything at all about expanding North-South bodies which were supposed to be the engines for a shared growth and reconciliation.

Mr Martin also accused the Government of taking “a highly partisan approach” to Ireland’s past, adding it had embraced an often tribal approach to sensitive issues and failed to show respect for traditions outside of those it saw as its own.

“Nothing should be allowed to distract the 1916 commemorations in two years’ time from the focus of being about the Irish people,’’ he added.

Speaking later to journalists, Mr Martin said Fianna Fáil had no difficulty with a member of the British royal family attending the commemoration.

Mr Martin said the position of 1916 as a force for unity, and a foundation for a shared and progressive republicanism in Ireland, was also under threat from Sinn Féin’s consistent campaign to falsify history to its own needs. “The party which today is called Sinn Féin has exactly zero claim to be the party of 1916,” he added.

‘No greater insult’

He said the current Sinn Féin was not even the direct democratic successor of the party founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith and which only ever won a majority when

Éamon de Valera was its leader.

Mr Martin said the Provisional movement actively promoted the idea that it was the “unbroken chain’’ from 1916 to today. It had had even gone as far as to say there was no difference between Pádraig Pearse and car bombers who targeted civilians in the past 40 years.

“There is no greater insult to the men and women of 1916 than to compare them to the Provisional movement of recent times.

“Fundamentally it casts aside the explicit words of the Proclamation that armed rebellion was seen as a short-term action until more democratic options were opened,’’ Mr Martin added. “It also ignores the words which demand that no one who serves the Republic ‘dishonour it by cowardice, inhumanity or rapine’.’’