Sinn Féin TD’s tweet on IRA attacks


Sir, – Sinn Féin needs to keep its narrative on the Provisional IRA campaign in Northern Ireland consistent.

Was it, as its usual narrative maintains, a fight for civil rights for nationalists which was eventually successful, or was it, at Brian Stanley TD appears to suggest, a continuation of the struggle for a 32-county republic?

In this context, it is worth reminding younger voters that by 1974 a power-sharing executive had been established as a result of the Sunningdale Agreement.

This agreement was opposed by Provisional IRA and by Sinn Féin on the basis that it did not establish a united Ireland, nor provide a specified timeline for such. The campaign of violence continued, supported by Sinn Féin. The agreement was also opposed by DUP,UDA and the various loyalist paramilitaries who eventually brought down the executive, which they, although for a different reason, also deemed illegitimate. The subsequent conversion of both extremes to power-sharing at the Belfast Agreement and the St Andrews Agreement was the genesis of Seamus Mallon’s observation that both were “slow learners”.

Mr Stanley’s tweet gives rise to the suspicion that some in Sinn Féin have not learned at all.

On the direct comparison between the Kilmichael and Narrow Water operations, the former was, notwithstanding some of the alleged actions by the IRA during the operation, a legitimate military operation, conducted in defence of the independent Irish State established by Dáil Éireann, by a force recognised by that body as the legal armed force of the State. The latter was conducted by an illegal force, operating in this instance from the territory of this State, without a mandate from Dáil Éireann, and in defiance of Bunreacht na hÉireann, which specifies that only Dáil Éireann has the authority to maintain armed forces and declare war.

Indeed, during its campaign in Northern Ireland, the Provisional movement never received, nor felt it required, a democratic mandate. Here it is again worth reminding the younger generation that the SDLP, the party founded by John Hume and implacably opposed to that campaign, consistently received the majority of nationalist votes during the so-called Troubles, and for some time thereafter.

Perhaps Sinn Féin does not just need to get its narrative straight. Maybe it also needs to decide whether it views Bunreacht na hÉireann as the fundamental law of this State , and whether the institutions thereunder established are legitimate. In particular, who has the right to declare war on behalf of the Irish people and who can legitimately organise armed forces and conduct military operations from within this State. Its answers to these questions go to the heart of the issue as to whether it is fit for government of this Republic. – Yours, etc,




A chara, – I was a bit surprised to read (Letters, December 1st) Kevin Sheeran’s letter claiming that Tom Barry of Kilmichael fame was no admirer of the Provos.

Surprised because I have revisited a photograph on Twitter of Barry meeting with young Provisionals in Belfast in 1972 at which he gave them advice on how to fight.

In 1970, Barry also said: “The ending of partition is the responsibility not alone of the people of Ireland, but of every Irishman wherever he may be. The objective is the same as 50 years ago.” – Is mise,


Cluain Dolcáin,

Baile Átha Cliath 22.

Sir, What an extraordinary organisation is Sinn Féin.

If a member of another party steps out of line, the call goes up to “Resign!”.

If one of their own steps out of line or is guilty of a serious error of judgment, the approach of the party is “Move on – nothing to see here.”

It never ceases to amaze. – Yours, etc,



Co Kerry.