Thank you Sinn Fein (now how about expanding the shadow of the future?)…

Was the decision to redeploy Mary McArdle from her job as an advisor by Sinn Fein a routine matter of rotating special advisors? Or was it, as the Minister hinted on UTV last night, Ms McArdle’s own decision to move on.

Whichever, Ann Travers’ warm words of gratitude suggest that whatever the original intention, she is determined to see it as a small act of reconciliation.

There is a lesson worth unpicking here. Whatever is said in public, the Sinn Fein brand remains toxic for a large swathe of society north and south. Much of that toxicity arises from a reflexive determination of some within the party leadership to continually enlarge the shadow of the past at expense of extending the shadow of the future.

As Sam Mc Bride noted on Talk Back today, there was something very particular about this story that gave it a certain potency. The family was middle class, Catholic, they were gunned down outside a church which had already witnessed after Mass killings by loyalists nine years previously.

The honesty, eloquence and human sympathy of Ann Travers’s witness contrasted powerfully with the sheer recklessness of of the crime. It hasn’t let the floodgates open, by any means. But it did open a space (for however brief a time) for victims to be heard, without any sense of jeopardising our hard won peace.

There are many more who’s stories have rarely been told beyond the fading snippets of news cuttings or within the of the Lost Lives book.

Pointing at the basic unfairness of picking out one killing out of the thousands of victims of our Troubles when faced with such honest distress is not enough to make it all go away. And as Fionnuala O’Connor noted in the Irish News, wingeing about stories you don’t like or that might do you some damage won’t work forever either:

“…small wonder here, where practising politics – as compared to making war – is relatively new, on a miniature scale, that every so often a prominent figure will get a rush of ego and have a go at the scribblers or the broadcasters. As though only pure badness could explain why they ask awkward questions of fail to take the word of the politico’s word as gospel.”

To which we might add: a little human generosity goes a very, very long way… A little less energy focusing on the partial wrongs of the past and little more about growing a sustainable future might also help…

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  • NOT NOW JOHN

    It should be fairly easy to determine whether or not Sinn Fein has a policy of a routinely rotating special advisors by looking at the situation in respect of the two Ministerial portfolios (Education and Agriculture) which they have held continuously since the restoration of devolution in 2007…. and then rule it in or out as a possible reason accordingly.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “a church which had already witnessed after Mass killings by loyalists nine years previously”

    Just to add a short note to this. One of the young men murdered on 9 February 1975 was Gerard Kiely. His mother Maura went on to form the Cross Group and I met her and other family members on many occasions at Corrymeela.

  • The Raven

    “…the Sinn Fein brand remains toxic for a large swathe of society north and south….a reflexive determination of some within the party leadership to continually enlarge the shadow of the past at expense of extending the shadow of the future.”

    I remain middle of the road on all such matters, but…

    When they appoint people with backgrounds like that which Mary McArdle has, they just don’t seem *SORRY* for what they’ve done. The DM says sorry – excuse me, expresses regret – for this death, that death and the other, and then they hire someone of this profile for the job.

    The woman’s paid her dues, life moves on, and I’m not suggesting she shouldn’t be employed anywhere. But whether it be this position, or the mayor of some backwater…when someone who has had a hand – tacit or otherwise – in the death of another, and then is elevated by party structure to these heights, it just rubs shite in the face of people like Ann Travers? Or any other victim, eloquent or otherwise?

    We’re stuck with these faces of the past *on both sides* for at least another ten years. I, for one, place no faith in the Damascene conversion of our First Minister. He remains to me, one of those very faces of the past.

    “a little human generosity goes a very, very long way… A little less energy focusing on the partial wrongs of the past and little more about growing a sustainable future might also help…”

    So let’s see some of THEM extend that generosity, by getting offside, once and for all. When I hear a politician here say “I’ve been in politics now for 20 years”, I want to tell him not to wear it like a badge of honour.

    Perhaps though, the 54% turnout at the last elections is the first tolls of the death knell for the lot of them.

  • ranger1640

    Marty says in the one of the Irish presidential interviews and I paraphrase “that If he becomes Irish President he will stand against cronyism, he will stand against greed and the brown envelop culture . Cronyism would that be the same opposition to cronyism that put Mary McArdle into an £80k a year job as a “Sinn Fein special advisor”????

    Come off it Marty, your doing yourself and Sinn Fein an injustice, cronyism is at the heart of Sinn Fein.

    As the Irish broadcaster Gay Byrne said “I’ve interviewed Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams and they are so well disciplined and so well honed that no interviewer gets anywhere with them.

    “You get nowhere with them because they lie.

    “They lie all the time. They don’t mind lying and they’ve rehearsed their lies and they’ve been trained to lie, and that’s what they’re doing.”

    “like so many other Irish people”, he had lost interest in the presidential election.

    He said that when he looks at Mr McGuinness, he does not think “statesman and politician”, but rather “former IRA man and former gunman”.

    He went on: “Do the Irish people want this guy to be head of the armed forces and all those connotations?

    “And under the Constitution there are many, many different things about which Sinn Fein, and he will wriggle, and weasel words as usual, because they’re very, very good at doing that.”

    I’ll not argue with that Gay.

    Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/republic-of-ireland/gay-byrne-fires-astonishing-broadside-at-mcguinness-in-tv-rant-16053993.html#ixzz1ovwdoruc

    http://www.u.tv/News/McArdle-quits-Stormont-advisor-post/ff1ee618-b301-4b5e-b090-41b46064f261.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ranger, you keep cross posting tat piece and you’ll go straight red!

  • socaire

    How could you come down on anybody who sees Gay-bo as a role model and political/social pundit?

  • gendjinn

    Mick,

    you were absolutely right, we totally need more unionist bloggers at slugger because three McArdle resignation threads just aren’t enough.

  • Politico68

    Would it be rude to express my profound boredom on this issue ?

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “we totally need more unionist bloggers at slugger because three McArdle resignation threads”

    gendjinn, two of the threads are from Turgon and he seems to take a mainly TUV line; there’s no thread from the UUP and DUP camps.

  • Mick Fealty

    I think he was being sarcastic Nev…

  • streetlegal

    The McArdle sacking should be seen as part of Provisional Sinn Fein’s ‘Operation Mainstream’. Perhaps if they don’t talk about what they did in the armed struggle, the electorate will think they are a mainstream, middle of the road political party.

  • http://nalil.blogspot.com Nevin

    “I think he was being sarcastic Nev…”

    No .. Really :)

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘Would it be rude to express my profound boredom on this issue ?’

    I’m sure that little gem will come in very useful !!

  • Reader

    Politico68: Would it be rude to express my profound boredom on this issue ?
    Of course not, but surely it would therefore be pointless and not worth your time to do so.