SF talk the talk but can't walk the walk
The Parades Commission delivered a damning verdict on the republican demonstration planned for Castlederg in Co Tyrone. It said the demonstration would have had a damaging effect on community relations in the town if it had gone ahead as planned. Of course, that opinion will come as no surprise to anyone, least of all Sinn Fein who organised the event. How could a parade held to honour dead IRA men have any other effect in a divided community?
The Commission had no alternative but to impose restrictions on the proposed march which provoked the anticipated response from Sinn Fein. Indeed, if one closed one's eyes, it was like listening to Orange Order leaders when one of their parades is re-routed. There were the same false arguments and claims that political beliefs and culture were not being respected. Republicans, like the Orange Order, like to portray themselves as victims of a heartless bureaucracy when it suits them.
It is all nonsense of course. No organisation has an absolute right to march anywhere and certainly not while leaving a poisonous atmosphere in its wake. The republican parade will pass the spots where two members of the security forces were killed by the IRA near the town. Is that a goodwill gesture or a community-building exercise? Surely a shared future should mean all sides trying to accommodate each other, not engage in provocation.
Sinn Fein has made much of its calls for a shared future and respecting shared spaces. But it fooled no one with its last minute parade re-routing in Castlederg which even the Parades Commission did not accept as sufficient. The party can hardly put itself forward as occupying the high moral ground on parading after this blatant exercise in coat-trailing. This is another example of the continuing necessity for a body like the Parades Commission. If politicians, community leaders and parade organisers cannot work out on-the-ground compromises, then someone else has to do it.