Why Sinn Fein turned against legislation

There’s little doubt that the SDLP has had something of a renaissance since the general election. As Pol O Muiri remarked a few months back, it looks like Mark Durkan has been eating raw meat for breakfast. He continues his chase after Sinn Fein with an accusation that the party performed its 180 degree turn when it got wind of the fact the government would require on the runs to appear in person in court.

  • beef or salmon

    Raw meat, or David Ervine’s thesaurus?

    This renaissance has involved the party lining up alongside unionism on a number of matters that might endear the party to unionists (who won’t vote for them anyway) but will certainly achieve little within nationalism.

    As for their New Year Honours performance….

  • “As for their New Year Honours performance…”

    Provo posters’ obsession with this tends to make one giggle- clearly they have nothing better to have a go on.

  • martin ingram

    One day we might see Sir Martin of the Bog side or Sir Gerry of Whiterock.


    PS We all know Why? they turned away because the SDLP could trace the paper trail of this sgreement to 2003 and Sinn Fein agreed to it. Simple. What does Sinn Fein do, it does what he knows best . It lies, jumps up and down puts Connor Murphy on the steps to the British Parliament to defend this legislation and then weeks later admits its wrong.But only when it knew the game was up.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    The question has to be asked of Durkan is why he and every other SDLP politician sat on this very obvious fact while they were continually slaughtered at the polling stations? To sit on a topic that could quite obviously damage your direct political opponents beggars belief, especially against a background of electoral meltdown.

    Another poser for Durkan is the fact that the SDLP did not contact any of the organisations representing the victims of collusion and state killings that they had information that there was legislation afoot that would ensure their loved ones would never have justice. Again this is a campaign that has a lot of resonance within the nationalist communtity, yet the SDLP apparently passed the opportunity up.

    The SDLP are not alone of course, virtually every political commentator and pundit now say they were wise to the obvious inclusion of state killers in the OTR negotiations. Funny then that in the intervening 3 years not one commentator or journalist chose to share the fact with the public. Indeed given the anymosity shown towards SF one would have thought this fact would have been used as another weapon to beat the Shinners.

    Simple fact is no one knew this was coming until the attempted slight of hand by the British Government. To try and claim now that ‘everyone knew’ is a lie.

  • Shore Road Resident

    Bollocks, Pat.
    No-one knew what was coming prior to the publication of the legislation except the government – and Sinn Fein, which had negotiated the provisions with the government in a side deal.
    It’s as simple as that – and everyone knows it.
    You’re only digging an even deeper hole for yourself by continuing to desperately claim otherwise.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    ‘Bollocks, Pat.’

    Don’t be vulgar.

    ‘No-one knew what was coming prior to the publication of the legislation except the government – and Sinn Fein, which had negotiated the provisions with the government in a side deal.’

    According to the SDLP they revisited documents available at the time of the negotiations. So if you are correct the SDLP leader is lying and the article quoted is a nonsense. Thus this thread is irrelevant.

    Please try and address the issues based on the facts.

  • cd

    Let’s do a balance sheet on the SDLP in recent months:

    The party has consistently lined up with unionism against Sinn Fein in the media, on a vast swathe of issues, thereby leaving Sinn Fein to argue the case for nationalists.

    In the Summer, the PSNI exposed the distance they have yet to travel to become acceptable to nationalists by their refusal to tackle loyalist violence head on, ‘stooping’ to new lows by actually denying sectarian motives for attacks on catholics in Ahoghill and in the awful case of the murder of Thomas Devlin.

    In the process, the stance of Sinn Fein regarding the PSNI was clearly vindicated for nationalists- something copper-fastened by the political arrest of Francie Brolly in recent times.

    The SDLP got into a fine mess on the RPA situation: by opposing the 7 Council model- which was clearly the best available for nationalists- the party were seen to be only self-interested and once again in tow with unionists. To make matters worse, the party’s stance went down like the proverbial lead balloon amongst the general public (indeed, this was one of the unique occasions that Sinn Fein alone seemed to capture the public mood, even amongst grassroots unionists.)

    Over the Civil Partnerships issue, the party had a public row, with one of its councillors publicly chastising ‘raw meat’ Durkan before lining up to vote with the DUP in Larne.

    And, finally, the SDLP were dealt a New Year’s Double Whammy when the party acolyte, Tom Kelly OBE, announced the party u-turn over British Honours within 24 hours of John ‘I’ll sue I’ll sue! Dallat raising nationalist ire by getting all confused about what defines ‘a royal toast’ at a Coleraine Christmas reception.

    Maybe Durkan is doing well amongst non-nationalists; but when the voting time comes round, that’ll hardly matter, Mick.

  • Shore Road Resident

    If that’s the case, and Sinn Fein was not involved in a secret side deal, then shouldn’t Sinn Fein have known about this ‘unexpected’ feature of the provisions for the past three years as well?
    You can’t have it both ways. Either SF did a deal and were caught out, or they didn’t do a deal (but backed the provisions upon publication) – and were then caught out.

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    you are scramling a bit like the SDLP here, first you argue from a point of their being no documents available and a few minutes later you backflip.

    What escapes you was that there were indeed documents available for perusal by all parties and commentators. Not one issued a statement on apparently what is now blindingly obvious. The simple truth is that all commentators and parties believed the negotiations referred to those who were actually OTR. Given that no state killers are OTR all parties etc believed it to be republicans only.

    The simple fact remains it was when the British tried to add in their own killers to the OTR legislation that things unravelled.

  • Shore Road Resident

    …including Sinn Fein then?
    How does this explain Conor Murphy’s trip to London to explain the detail and necessity of the entire legislative proposal?
    There’s nothing you can say abou the SDLP or anyone else here that doesn’t equally apply to the Shinners. So why are you trying to pin blame on everyone but the Shinners?

  • martin ingram

    Shore Rd,

    You are right and Pat is doing what Pat does best, lies for Sinn Fein.

    The evidence is laid out below and Sinn Fein took weeks to finally understand that this deal was not on.It even sent Connor Murphy to London to say well done.The following is the press release from the SDLP.

    A Better Way to a Better Ireland


    Immediate release – Immediate Release – Immediate Release


    The SDLP has uncovered final proof that Sinn Fein accepted state killers getting away with it – and has accused the British Government of blatant double standards on loyalism.

    Speaking at the launch of an SDLP briefing document “12 things they don’t want you to know about the NI Offences Bill”, the SDLP’s Alex Attwood stated:

    “Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams have both said publicly that “Sinn Féin did not … accept that members of the British state forces should be part of this process.”

    “They did accept it – and we have final proof. We have gone back to the Sinn Fein/British Government side deal of April 2003. It states that “a qualifying offence would be any scheduled offence … committed before 10 April 1998.”

    “Scheduled offences are offences like murder, bomb making, possession of weapons and are always tried in Diplock Courts.

    “State killings in Northern Ireland are scheduled offences. That’s why people like Guardsmen Fisher and Wright and Lee Clegg were tried in Diplock Courts.

    “So when Sinn Fein signed up to anybody who committed any scheduled offence before 1998 being able to skip jail, they accepted state killers getting away with it – now and in the future. They accepted this in black and white in the Hillsborough side deal.”

    Turning to other defects in the proposals, Mr Attwood stated:

    “The IRA had to decommission and commit to end all activity before the Government would even introduce this legislation.

    “But loyalists will be able to benefit even if they do not decommission a single bullet. Even if they do not end their drug dealing, intimidation, “punishment” shootings and crime. If this legislation is passed, the UDA will be able to benefit right away.

    “For thirty years the British Government has failed to take loyalist violence seriously – even though loyalists have been responsible for over 800 murders – most of them sectarian. So the blatant double standard applied to loyalist violence, while appalling, is not new.

    “What is new is that Sinn Fein is complicit in this too. Their side deal only required loyalist organisations to have a ceasefire. Even though the IRA had to decommission, Sinn Fein did not insist that loyalists should have to do likewise – or commit to end their crime.”

    “The British Government has said that it does not like this legislation – but has to introduce it to honour the deal done with Sinn Fein. The way out of this mess is simple. Sinn Fein should call on Tony Blair to withdraw this legislation. Let’s go back to the drawing board and devise a proper process that deals with OTRs proportionately while getting truth and justice for victims.”



    Paragraph 4 of the British Government/Sinn Fein side deal states that:

    “Legislation would set out who and what offences qualified for the scheme. A
    qualifying offence would be any scheduled or equivalent offence committed before 10
    April 1998. It would include offences committed by, or in the course of, escaping, or
    committed as part of an incident involving a scheduled offence. A qualifying person
    would be someone:
    • who was not a supporter of a specified organisation;
    • who was not currently involved in acts of terrorism; and
    • who had not been convicted of a serious offence committed after 10 April 1998
    for which he had received a sentence of five years or more.

    State killings are scheduled offences. Therefore Sinn Fein signed up to this. Nowhere in the deal is it mentioned that state killers are not covered.

    The only condition required for organisations to benefit is that they are not specified (ie. the Secretary of State recognises their ceasefires). The Secretary of State recognises the UDA ceasefire.

    There is no condition requiring decommissioning or an end to all activity by loyalists in paragraph 4 or anywhere else.


    Further information: Alex Attwood: 07801882458
    SDLP Press Officer Sharon Haughey: 028 90521 385

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    I have not or never have tried to absolve Sf of anthing over this legislation. either back up your allegation or withdraw it.

    At 2.18pm you stated that ‘no one knew what was coming prior to the publication of the legislation’. You are now accepting that your original post was incorrect, which is to be welcomed.
    The point of the SDLP attack is that it was quite obvious that state killers were to be allowed to benefit from OTR legislation.
    The point I am making and which again you now appear to accept is that no one pointed this obvious fact out for the best part of three years.

    The conclusion I am drawing and as of yet it has not been challenged, is the fact that it was not highlighted by others is that they too believed only those actually OTR would benefit.

    The scramble to try and impress that ‘we knew all along’ is transparently false.

  • headbangor

    is it just me, or does Pat seem to be desparately grasping at straws ?

  • man o’ the irish


    On this thread, Martin Ingram has publicly accused Pat McLarnon of being a liar. On a previous thread, the same individual equated membership of Community Restorative Justice to that of the IRA.

    Having spoken today with members of the CRJ about the allegation carried on the site, I can assure you that the people I spoke with are very concerned about the allegation.

    Neither post has been removed, nor has action been taken against the ‘offending’ poster.

    Now, given that I have allegedly been ‘barred’ from the site for defaming unknown individuals after intimating that specific stories carried in the media were untrue (fabrications, I believe was the term deemed ‘offensive’, and to which I completely stand over having very good knowledge about both), I take it that similar action will follow for our resident British informant, Martin?

    After all, if your concern is truly preventing people from making accusations about others, then it must be the case that the rule should apply across the board? Or is it that republicans alone are to be censured?

    Personally, I think the site should be big enough and indeed mature enough to tolerate some witty and forthright- even ascerbic- comments from contributors.

    One of the two comments I posted that was apparently deemed offensive even provoked a complimentary response from the poster/ site contributor whom I was reacting to, and to whom by the way I have a considerable amount of respect for the way he has contributed to the development of the site.

    One of the strengths of Slugger is that it has filled the insatiable gap in cyberworld for the politicos up here in the north to have a go at one another, rant and rave from time to time and, at its most productive, facilitate some worthwhile discussions which provide food for thought for the contributors, regardless of their background.

    However, there is no question in my mind that the site has lost a balance in recent months, and there is a real danger that the site will be reduced to a unionist talk shop- particularly if Pat ever decides that he’s had enough of the personal insults and packs it in.

    That would be a real pity in my mind, because there is scope for the site to continue growing and, were you to approach republicans to find a willing site contributor, then it might bring back a balance to the site that has sadly been lacking for quite some time.

    Now, I’m off to enjoy my enforced early retirement….

  • Pat Mc Larnon


    i can see where Jack is coming from and the action he is taking. He’s being ignored and is being more desperate in trying to provoke a response.

  • Belfast Gonzo


    I don’t mean to disrespect anyone, but if someone like myself had heard of Blair’s plan to give State forces an amnesty in July 2001 (never mind the deal of April 2003), you can bet your sweet ass that Gerry Kelly did too.

    The Government wanted to keep this issue quiet, since it would have been opposed by both SF and elements in the Establishment (horrified at the moral equivalence between State and anti-State violence).

    The SDLP are merely returning to the 2003 deal because they’ve caught on with hindsight that SF were napping and found some evidence to back it up. So were the SDLP, in a way, but now they can have their day.