A number of papers report the reaction to the Sinn Féin Chairman Mitchel McLaughlin’s recent comments. The Irish Times reports the McConville family’s call for the SF Chairman to resign, and quotes, among others, Fianna Fáil TD, Mr Brendan Smith, “It is the Irish people, not the IRA, who decide who governs Ireland.. It is disgusting for Sinn Féin to suggest a backroom cabal are this country’s legitimate government.“Also in the Irish Times, the Fine Gael leader in the Seanad, Mr Brian Hayes, is quoted – Sinn Féin’s “campaign to say that past atrocities were not crimes is part of a campaign to rewrite history for their own propaganda.”
The Labour Party leader, Mr Pat Rabbitte, also criticised “the stated intention of the Taoiseach to resume contact with Sinn Féin on his return from China as if nothing had happened.“, saying that “Any civilised society must consider the abduction and murder of a mother of 10 children to be a crime of considerable barbarism”
and, Fianna Fáil TD, Mr Brendan Smith, described this remark as “a serious affront to everyone who values our democracy…
“It is hard to comprehend how any party can claim to be committed to democratic politics and the path of peace while at the same time maintaining that an unelected, unaccountable military junta is the rightful government of this country.”[my emphasis]
He called on Mr McLaughlin to withdraw his remarks. “The people of Ireland under our Constitution elect the Government in free elections.
“It is disgusting for Sinn Féin to suggest a backroom cabal are this country’s legitimate government.
“As a democrat, I say unequivocally to Sinn Féin: It is the Irish people, not the IRA, who decide who governs Ireland.”
The Irish Times also notes that Mr Michael McConville yesterday called on Mr McLaughlin to resign his position in Sinn Féin because of his comments. “To me taking human life is wrong. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. It’s wrong to kill,” he said.
The only support for Mitchel McLaughlin comes from Sinn Féin representative – Arthur Morgan, the Sinn Féin TD for Louth, where the remains of Ms McConville were found by accident in 2003, said yesterday he did not think her killing was a criminal act.
Reaction in the North is reported in the Belfast Telegraph and quotes the SDLP MLA Alex Atwood – “..For the IRA and Sinn Fein, murder is not a crime and the IRA is a legitimate authority on the island of Ireland.
It raises further and deeper doubts about the nature and intentions of Sinn Fein and the IRA. It goes to the heart of what is decent and to the heart of what is democratic.”
And the Irish Examiner editorial is straightforward in its assessment – SINN Féin’s arrogance in attempting to rewrite history and reinvent the English language beggars belief. – describing Mitchel McLauglin’s comments as “the latest instance of its [SF’s] blinkered approach to reality“