The Irish Times view on Sinn Féin: think once, then think carefully

Scrutiny of the influences behind Sinn Féin, hidden or otherwise, will continue – and rightly so

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald takes part in the final TV leaders’ debate at the RTE studios in Dublin on Tuesday. Photograph: Niall Carson /AFP via Getty Images

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald takes part in the final TV leaders’ debate at the RTE studios in Dublin on Tuesday. Photograph: Niall Carson /AFP via Getty Images

When Mary Lou McDonald spoke during the RTÉ Prime Time leaders debate about who Sinn Féin represents, it certainly wasn’t Breege Quinn whose son was brutally murdered in Co Monaghan by a gang believed to be associated with the Provisional IRA. Nor when she engaged in word games as to her party’s view of the Special Criminal Court, was she speaking for the victims of horrific crimes, the perpetrators of which that court has jailed. Many of those convicted were members of the IRA.

None of this is surprising. SF’s relationship with the IRA is a historic fact. The party does not pretend otherwise though it is adept at spinning a self-serving narrative around it. Yet Paul Quinn was attacked in 2007. That is not a historical time frame. Memories of the past are dimming, however, and voters – now attracted to Sinn Féin in pursuit of a desire for change – may be unperturbed, unaware or be satisfied that the party has distanced itself from it.

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