Belfast Telegraph

Why no public outcry at Gerry Adams paying homage to the notorious fascist thug Sean South?

The BBC and others need to ask Sinn Fein's president some hard questions, writes Nelson McCausland

This Sunday afternoon Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams TD will be in Limerick for a special commemoration. Sinn Fein supporters will gather in the city centre and march out to the grave of Sean South at Mount St Lawrence Cemetery, where Adams will be the main speaker.

The event is to mark the 60th anniversary of the deaths of South and Fergal O'Hanlon, who were killed during a failed IRA attack on the RUC station in Brookeborough on January 1, 1957. South was from Limerick and O'Hanlon from Monaghan, and so there are two separate commemorations each year.

The IRA gang was intent on blowing up the RUC station and murdering the policemen in it, but the terrorist attack went badly wrong.

South and O'Hanlon were killed and some of the other IRA gunmen were injured. The two funerals were the focal points for "a week of all but national mourning", and the abortive IRA raid entered the folk memory of republicanism.

Within a week of his death, the song Sean South had appeared in the Irish Catholic and soon became very popular in the repertoire of republicanism.

South was more than just an IRA gunman. He was also a member of the Gaelic League and Sinn Fein, and he was a young man whose mind had been poisoned by politico-religious fanaticism.

He had formed the Limerick branch of the right-wing religious organisation Maria Duce, which was notoriously anti-Protestant and anti-Semitic. South even promoted the organisation in the Gaelic League monthly newspaper Rosc.

The founder of Maria Duce taught that communism was an international conspiracy organised by Jews and Freemasons, and in March 1950 the secretary of Maria Duce called for Ireland, as "a Catholic state", to "suppress non-Catholic sects as inimical to the common good". He added that "such intolerance is the privilege of truth".

South's biographer Mainchin Seoighe also states that he was a member of the fascist party Ailtiri na hAiseirighe, and he was certainly a sympathiser.

Last Sunday there was a northern Sinn Fein event close to where the dead bodies of South and O'Hanlon were left by their IRA comrades as they escaped across the border.

There the speaker was Sinn Fein MEP Matt Carthy, who attacked the DUP and said: "The political leadership of unionism remains steeped in sectarianism and pursues a deeply reactionary political agenda. This situation is not sustainable. Republicans did not sign up for the indefinite obstruction of political progress. We did not sign up for the denial of Irish language rights."

This seems to refer to the republican demand for an Irish Language Act, and that helps to explain how Sinn Fein is attempting to position itself politically at the present time.

It also says something about the mindset of Sinn Fein when Carthy felt able to accuse others of "sectarianism" and "a deeply reactionary agenda" while at the same time eulogising South, who was the very epitome of sectarianism and reactionary politics.

Usually the Limerick commemoration is a low-key event, and in 2015 it drew a crowd of just 250 people, with two local councillors as the speakers.

However, this year, the 60th anniversary, Sinn Fein has called in its party president Gerry Adams.

Something similar happened for the 50th anniversary, when the speaker was none other than Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

All of this raises a number of questions.

If a senior member of any other political party addressed a commemoration for a gunman who held such odious views as those of South, would the media not be interrogating that politician?

Would they not be door-stepping him and demanding an explanation and an apology?

Why, then, are they so reluctant to confront Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness? Is there to be two-tier journalism? If the BBC, as our "public service broadcaster", can send reporters off for a fortnight to South America, then surely it can send someone down to Limerick for an afternoon to ask Adams.

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