Why do people vote for Sinn Fein?

Jenny McCartney accepts what looks like an inevitable outcome to this election. But she can’t quite get her head round the fact that “innumerable people with a moral sense in other aspects of their lives – who could safely be entrusted with a neighbour’s house keys, say, and wouldn’t dream of breaking their marriage vows – will nonetheless vote Sinn Fein on Thursday, and thus tacitly endorse the continuation of IRA armed robbery, extortion, money-laundering, smuggling, assault and murder”.She can see the obvious answer:

Many of these voters will be convinced that Sinn Fein is creating an unstoppable dynamic towards a united Ireland, and have evidently decided not to worry about the ethics of how it gets there. Others will be swayed by fear: there is still a widespread belief in republican areas of Northern Ireland that Sinn Fein can find out not only whether you voted, but also how.

But can’t get over how the IRA’s military approach to policing is so widely accepted. She was in Belfast when Liam Kennedy last ran his anti beatings campaign:

Mr Kennedy stood once before against Mr Adams, in 1997. I interviewed him after a Sinn Fein supporters’ election meeting, in which he stood up and asked Gerry Adams a question about the IRA assaults that leave so many Catholic youths suicidal, traumatised or maimed for life. The glances that Mr Kennedy received from the Sinn Fein supporters in the audience could have blistered paint at 20 paces. Natural justice was of course not upheld at the count: Mr Adams won the seat resoundingly, and Mr Kennedy received 102 votes.