Belfast Telegraph

'Sinn Fein wants to show Northern Ireland is a failed political entity by bringing chaos over welfare reform'

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media during a press conference at Stormont over the issue of welfare reform.
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness speaks to the media during a press conference at Stormont over the issue of welfare reform.

Tuesday's Belfast Telegraph carried a front page headline screaming three words based on an article written by Peter Robinson – Why? Why? Why?

There are two possible answers to Mr Robinson’s questions about Sinn Fein and welfare reform.

You could take what Republicans say at face value. You could accept that they really are concerned about the long term sick, the disabled and those with young children and have suddenly come to the conclusion that the deal they agreed back at Christmas fails to protect them.

But I don’t think anyone seriously believes that.

I was attending an event to mark European Day for Victims of Terrorism in a room full of people who have lost loved ones and been left permanently disabled – many, but by no means all, by the actions of the IRA – when a journalist tapped me on the shoulder and pointed to online reports on her phone about Sinn Fein’s latest move. That, perhaps, goes some way to explain why I am particularly cynical about the official Republican line.

So why did they do it?

Sinn Fein have no interest in the long term viability of our Province. They are quite open about the fact that they want to bring an end to Northern Ireland as a political entity. And what better way to do that than by using their position in government to bring chaos?

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What better way to show that Northern Ireland is “a failed political entity” than to make demands which they know Northern Ireland cannot meet within its budget?

Once you remember that Sinn Fein still believes in the use of violence to achieve political ends – as their defence of a play park named after a convicted terrorist shows – it is quite easy to understand why they pulled the pin from the political grenade on Monday and then sat back and laughed at the panic which ensured among those committed to propping up Stormont.

Sinn Fein have reminded us all (again) that the current system of government is one which they have the ability to bring an end to at any point.

They may take Stormont over the cliff edge on this. They may not. But what is beyond doubt is that when they conclude that Stormont has served its propose in the process of easing Northern Ireland into a 32 county Republic they will have no qualms about putting an end to the Assembly and Executive.

Mr Robinson may find Sinn Fein thinking difficult to understand but those who are more cynical about his coalition partners will have no such problems.

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