Is the criticism by Northern Ireland deputy First Minister, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness, of the DUP’s Gregory Campbell, and other unionist politicians, a sign of cracks in the NI Executive or a last-minute appeal to the base ahead of election day?
Or a not so last-minute appeal to the base.. [Don’t tell anyone! – Ed] Campbell’s certainly a more convenient target for Sinn Féin to take aim at than the NI First Minister – and others are ready to do that for them. But whereas now, condemnation is “not enough” for Sinn Féin, once it would have been enough for the Provisional IRA to issue a denial of involvement for Gerry Adams, MP, MLA, to state [Google cache],
“The IRA last Friday said that none of its volunteers or units were involved in the Adare incident. I accept that position”, and for Pat Doherty, MP, MLA, to declare, “I don’t want to put the families through any more political trauma by fighting over words like condemn. I abhor the politics of condemnation” – a view they shared at the time with David Ervine.
And, mis-remembering aside, condemnation remains a step too far for some within Sinn Féin when it comes to those legacy issues. But hatred, once tactically deployed, cannot be simply wished away because of political expedience. Better to see implementation of a strategy to deal with that legacy than more attendances at funerals.
That’s just part of the wider context in this top-down Process™ referred to on Stormont Live by the SDLP’s Alex Attwood and the Alliance Party’s Naomi Long. Additional comment from the UUP’s Danny Kennedy here and Sinn Féin’s Alex Maskey here.
None of which, by the way, negates the real need for what Michael Longley referred to as civilisation
It’s how we interact with one another, civilization. On the one hand, I’m interested in how we avoid tearing one another to pieces. Peace is not that, peace is the absence of that, peace is the absence of war: the opposite of war is custom, customs, and civilization. Civilization is custom and manners and ceremony, the things that Yeats says in “A Prayer for My Daughter.” We have a vocabulary of how to deal with one another and how to behave, a vocabulary of behavior, as well as things to say to one another . . . and out of that come laws and agreed ways of doing things . . . and that in daily life are a bit like form in poetry.
And, as the recent law lords’ ruling noted
It may well be that many, or indeed most, Northern Irish people would now feel able to overlook an expression of support for the use of violence, voiced long ago, in very different times, and long since repented of. But there are, unfortunately, many people on both sides of the sectarian divide whose lives have been blighted by the death of relatives or friends, killed in a politically motivated atrocity. Others have to live out their lives under the permanent burden of injuries sustained in such an atrocity. Some of these people may, indeed, feel able to forgive both the perpetrators and those who approved of what they did. But we admire such feelings, precisely because they cannot be commanded. Other people who have been similarly affected may, quite understandably, be unable to see matters in that way. This does not make them bigots; they are just people who have been deeply and immediately affected by the violence and who do not yet feel able to “move on” – to use the unattractive modern jargon.
There has already been a recognition of that wider context and the need for a civilisation process.
“That can only happen in the long term future. How long that will be I don’t know. If it is done by any means of coercion, or divisiveness, or threats, it will never happen. We’ll stay at a very peaceful Ireland and I think time will be the healer providing people, in a dedicated way, work for the better good of everyone on the island. If it doesn’t prove possible, then it stays the way it is under the Good Friday Agreement, and people will just have to be tolerant of that if it’s not possible to bring it any further.”