All apologies redux… July 13, 2012Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Politics, Northern Ireland, Sinn Féin.
I was a little sceptical about the talk of SF pushing towards some sort of apology from the IRA. And perhaps I still am. But that said, what to make of the following in the SBP?
One of the most senior figures in the Sinn Féin leadership has made a strong appeal to republicans to reach out to their unionist neighbours by acknowledging the suffering caused by the Northern conflict.
Speaking in Darkley, South Armagh on Friday night, Sinn Féin chairman Declan Kearney said that he and other members of the Sinn Féin leadership hoped for an authentic reconciliation process across the island of Ireland.
Again, much depends on the nature of such an acknowledgement. And I don’t say this as an SF partisan. But I’m always a little wary of the sort of rhetoric below:
Kearney referred to meeting of Britain’s Queen Elizabeth and Martin McGuinness last week as a ‘Mandela Moment’, and that there was a need for new risks and compromises for more of those moments to be achieved, and the “trajectory towards national reconciliation” maintained.
“The achievements of our process demand that we now complete that journey,” said Kearney. “We will have to keep stretching ourselves, taking bolder steps.”
It’s not that such events have no significance, and subsequent to that meeting I’m more convinced now that that was – far from the Southerncentric media’s spin on it being about attracting a Southern floating vote, more about the dynamics extant within the six counties. That’s fair enough. Northern Ireland is a primary focus both of activity and reconciliation on the path to broader engagement on unity. However long that may take, and as Joe – long-time commentor here notes, it’s going to take a long time indeed.
But even to frame it as a ‘Mandala moment’ is to frame it in an unnecessary way.
None of which is to deny that Sinn Féin appears to be doing something fairly unique in terms of Republicanism which is to simultaneously maintain its Republicanism while also seeking to engage seriously with Unionism in the North. That’s quite something, almost a step change.
It also raises many questions. What is the end point? Or even the transitional points? What sort of new relationships are envisaged? Taking an almost banal point, I’ve heard on good authority that the Executive functions in spite of rather than because of with much less communication between the parties, and in particular the DUP and SF than might be expected. Is this in part a way to rework that? If so no harm. But then what happens next?