Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein dance video out of step

Editor's Viewpoint

It has to be accepted that republicans have come a long way in recent years. Sinn Fein holds the post of Deputy First Minister in Northern Ireland and anticipates having an influential role on the other side of the border after this month's general election in the Republic.

But at a time when the party is cheerleader for the centenary of the Easter Rising from which it claims its heritage, it should also remember its baggage from the days of the Troubles, when it was intrinsically linked to the IRA and its campaign of horrendous violence.

That is not to undermine its current embrace of democracy and use of political debate to further its aim of a united Ireland. Most people welcome the fact that Sinn Fein now relies on the ballot box and not the Armalite for its mandate, which is sizeable.

However, there will remain sensitivities among the many people who have suffered at the hands of republicans in recent decades.

They will view the promotional video produced by Sinn Fein in the Newry and Armagh constituency - a take on the BBC's reality show Strictly Come Dancing - as an attempt to sugar coat the image of republicans in what was once the most formidable IRA stronghold.

In particular, the appearance in the video of Sean Hughes, a man named under Parliamentary privilege as being involved in several horrific bombings causing multiple deaths, will be regarded as particularly upsetting.

He was also cited in Parliament as being one of several senior republicans who gave the order for South Armagh man Paul Quinn to be beaten to death in a shed in Co Monaghan.

It must be stressed that Mr Hughes should be judged as innocent unless a court should find otherwise, and that he has denied the allegations levelled against him. Yet his appearance in the video will rankle with many people. They will see it as the uncaring face of Sinn Fein, failing to acknowledge how past events still cause raw emotions.

Sinn Fein will point out, with some justification, that it has attempted to reach out to unionists in the pursuit of a more shared society in Northern Ireland, but in its own triumphalism in this centenary year, it should be careful about how others view it.

Some people will see this video as dancing on the graves of their beloved ones - and find it strictly nauseating.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph