Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Unionists will query Sinn Fein's Twelfth motives

Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald

Editor's Viewpoint

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald's proposal that celebrating the Twelfth across the whole island of Ireland should be on the table in any discussions on an Irish unity poll seems like an enticing carrot at first glance.

But it is one which is unlikely to have Orangemen burnishing their badges in anticipation of a parade in Cork anytime soon. While it would be wrong to dismiss the proposal out of hand, many in the unionist community would need convincing evidence of Sinn Fein's bona fides.

They will remember the Sinn Fein leader marching behind an 'England get out of Ireland' banner in the US last year or her applauding the party's former outreach officer Martina Anderson chanting 'Tiocfaidh ar la' and the British Government's days in Ireland are numbered' during an IRA commemoration event in Strabane last August.

For people whose identity as British is crucial to them, these words were regarded as Sinn Fein saying that they, as unionists, would not be welcome in an united Ireland.

Mrs McDonald's proposal infers that granting permission for Orange parades in the Republic is in her party's gift while of course it is not. It certainly would be a tremendous transformation to see parades in all parts of this island as the Twelfth is one of the biggest religious/cultural events to be held on the island. It should be noted that the annual Orange demonstration to Rossnowlagh in Co Donegal is an event which passes off without rancour and with little security.

However, it should also be noted that, just like Northern Ireland, old passions run deep in the Republic as evidenced by the row which led to the postponement and probable cancelling of a government-sponsored commemoration of the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police. There were widespread objections across the Republic and not only from Sinn Fein, and those previously dormant attitudes may well be resurrected again when the Republic comes to commemorate the Irish civil war which ran from 1922-23.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar was astounded at the depth of feeling which still exists from a century ago and had to agree that the Republic is no more mature in dealing with the past than is Northern Ireland.

Sign In

To continually press for an Irish unity poll when we cannot even agree to share power in the province reeks of opportunism rather then a genuine conversation on the way forward.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph