Most criticism of Sinn Fein in the south is misplaced. Jude Collins has a point when he argues that the ambush of a British army column at Kilmichael in west Cork has an equivalent to the IRA’s actions in the north.
People do die (often needlessly) in war, but once there’s been a discernable commitment to peace, the lines of conflict ought naturally shift to new battlegrounds. Not least, how you’re likely to run the county, the region or the country.
A couple of days ago, Pearse Doherty gave a broad brush outline of how that might happen under Sinn Fein:
Sinn Fein would ensure that all publicly funded appointments are made on the basis of merit, reflect the make-up of our diverse society and that equality is at the core of the public appointments process with opportunities to serve on public bodies promoted to the widest possible field of potential candidates and in a public manner.
Ah, partition is bliss. In actual fact the only Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive found guilty of discrimination on religious grounds was…. Conor Murphy of Sinn Fein.
The tribunal was scathing of Murphy’s partisan and sectarian motives:
In March 2011, Mr Murphy appointed a Catholic as chairman, Sean Hogan, ahead of four others shortlisted after interview, all of them Protestants.
According to the tribunal, Mr Hogan was selected because “he was not from a Protestant background and because he was known to the minister and his (then Sinn Fein) ministerial colleagues”, Michelle Gildernew and Caitriona Ruane, who were consulted about the appointment.
Indeed, in order to fill the black hole he’d created in sacking four non executive members of Northern Ireland Water Murphy had also suspended the oversight powers the Public Appointments Commissioner.
Yep, well that’s what Sinn Fein has done in Northern Ireland. It’s not necessarily an indication of what they might do in the Republic. As Robert Putnam notes in his grand study of regional democracy in Italy, different regions had different outcomes depending on pre-existing conditions.
As we noted in The Long Peace (Pg 22):
Successful regional government has emerged in regions that display the civic values of ‘co-operation, trust, reciprocity, civic engagement and social well-being.’ Regional government has failed where uncivic values predominate: ‘defection, distrust, shirking, exploitation, isolation, disorder, and stagnation.’