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Fianna Fail leader slams Sinn Fein and DUP failings

By Liam Clarke

The leader of the Opposition in the Irish parliament has launched his strongest attack ever on Sinn Fein and the DUP's record in Government.

Fianna Fail's Micheal Martin accused the two largest Assembly parties of happily exploiting the risks that others took and being mainly motivated by party political interests.

Speaking at Queen's University's Politics Society in Belfast, Mr Martin said "the peace process was supposed to be about more than an absence of violence".

"It is a great success of the Agreement and a victory for moderate politics, that the DUP and Sinn Fein are now sharing power," he said. "However, they remain two parties deeply committed to their own interests.

"Just as they happily exploited the risks for peace taken by others in the early years of the process, their approach to all issues remains, to this day, primarily motivated by party interests."

The TD said that both opinion polls and events showed "a clear and growing disillusionment with Government... in significant parts of both communities", which the Executive, London and Dublin must tackle.

"The greatest responsibility lies with those who spent nearly a decade standing in the way of full implementation of the Agreement," he said. He hit out at Sinn Fein's behaviour during the Queen's visit to Dublin. "Where was Sinn Fein when the British monarch bowed her head in tribute to Padraig Pearse and James Connolly? It was on the street outside chanting and holding protest signs... these were empty and divisive stunts, witnessed by millions," he said.

Mr Martin said an "ambitious anti-sectarian agenda is now an absolute priority".

"As a starting point, I believe that the situation that has been allowed to develop where the PSNI have returned to the centre stage on the issue of parades and protests, and where the PSNI and the Parades Commission are openly disagreeing with each other on what powers of intervention they have must be addressed and dealt with by political leaders urgently," he said.

"In this same context, I think that the illegal parades past the Short Strand interface should stop and they should stop immediately."

He called on the Executive to publish a comprehensive Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy immediately.


"There is a growing tendency to see a settlement designed to be fair to all as favouring one side more than the other. Irrespective of the truth of these fears... they have not been addressed in any concerted way. Partly because it continues to suit the dominant political parties to lock their communities and the media in a never-ending cycle of controversies and conflicts about old-style identity politics."

FF leader Micheal Martin

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