The word “Orwellian” is overused, but sometimes it’s the only one that suffices. Take the famous line from Orwell’s 1984 novel: “Who controls the past controls the future; whoever controls the present controls the past.”
Sinn Féin did not take this as a nightmarish warning, but has taken it as sound advice in that it has now deleted from its website all statements that preceded Finance Spokesman Pearse Doherty’s October 1, 2019 alternative budget speech.
This has now become day zero of the party’s latest incarnation.
Most people have things in their freezers longer than that, but Sinn Féin now doesn’t want anyone to look further back in time – for fear of the disconnect between what the party now claims to stand for and what it does used to stand so tall that even the most obedient of his followers could begin to smell a rat.
The party insists it simply cleaned up to streamline its operations while being careful to avoid the phrase “internal housekeeping,” which is commonly used to explain away the killings of whistleblowers.
All parties do this to some extent. Hardly any politician has principles that he would not give up immediately for a ministerial pension.
But as cynically opportunistic as they are, most politicians generally do not try to hide a full 180-degree shift in stance and policy, as Sinn Féin does, by burying previous statements by party spokesmen denouncing Nato or abruptly show uncomfortable sympathy for Russian President Vladimir Putin.
For a party trying to enter government, such statements are now as embarrassing as youthful Facebook posts. These, like the party’s previous hostility to the EU, simply have to go.
Some even see the will to distance oneself from this former student radicalism as a sign of growing maturity. And if it were, it would almost be possible to respect it. But it would still miss the point.
The significance of this story is not so much that Sinn Féin is trying to erase its history in order to finally take its place in the corporate merry-go-round, but that it wants to gain power to do exactly that and rewrite that history.
They want to do with the memories of the Irish people what they have just done with their own website – wiping both clean and overlaying a new version of reality over every narrative that portrays the IRA as an illegitimate terrorist organization rather than a glorious one Army of Liberation.
It’s not that they changed their minds after considering the issues. They don’t really care about these other issues at all.
Any other policy or position can and will be abandoned in support of the IRA and its war aims. The only possible conclusion is that defending the IRA and advancing its war aims remain the primary reasons for Sinn Féin’s existence.
Modern Republicans might love to see affordable housing for young people, but if the choice were between affordable housing or defending the IRA and promoting Irish unity, Irish unity and the IRA would win.
Likewise for hospital waiting lists, or fuel allowances, or support for women with breast cancer, or the restoration of rail service to Navan, or helping Ukrainian refugee children access education – all of these were given out by Sinn Féin in press releases last week.
Their policy on such matters may be compassionate and progressive, but if there was ever a clash between breast cancer sufferers and Ukrainian children on the one hand and the IRA and Irish unity on the other, there would only be one winner.
So party officials once again spent St. Patrick’s Week indulging in the fantasies of Irish Americans with more money than sense.
In the US, party leader Mary Lou McDonald even announced that she “welcomes” newspaper advertisements from local organizations which, as she put it, “join voices from across Ireland calling for a citizens’ meeting to be held on Irish unity”.
Organizations included an appeal from the usual suspects, including the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians (because the main one doesn’t admit women as members, a fact that would have Sinn Féin yelling about sexism if this the case would have been Dublin).
Frankly, it would be more amazing if Plastic Paddies didn’t call for Irish unity again in the States.
Not least because, as the fine print on them revealed, the newspaper ads in question were organized and paid for by the so-called “Friends of Sinn Féin,” a group “registered with the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, under the Foreign Agents Registration Act as Agent of Sinn Fein”.
Welcoming these self-important ads, Mary Lou was like a football team manager praising a fan club statement written by management in which they are all very excited for their team’s cup win.
With everything else falling by the wayside, all that remains is this obsession with Irish unity, for without it Sinn Féin has no real principles.
In the past few weeks, for the first time in a long time, we can see just how dangerous it could be to actually put those one-spending knives in charge of everything important.
What Clare Daly and Mick Wallace say couldn’t be less meaningful About everything. You are a sideshow. Sinn Fein is different.
What they have shown again is that in government, even as war rages on in Europe, pushing Irish unity will be the central test of every policy, every ministry.
People have the right to vote for it if they do so voluntarily, but no one should delude themselves what that would mean.
The past would be scrubbed as clean as the archives on Sinn Féin’s website, and there would be an orgy of Irish-American paddywhackers around the national question every day. If that prospect doesn’t justify being labeled “Orwellian,” then nothing.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/pushing-irish-unity-is-all-that-sinn-fein-really-cares-about-41466383.html Promoting Irish unity is all that Sinn Féin truly cares about