There’s a piece in yesterday’s Belfast Telegraph in which Sinn Fein is accused of hypocrisy in their insistence that loyalist bandsmen may not sport any sort of paraphernalia relating to loyalist paramilitaries. That insistence is something that’s been carried through by the Parades Commission, which, according to Leslie Anne Henry:
…upheld a decision to allow 41 loyalist bands to march through the Co Antrim village without restriction. However, bands have been warned in the commissions determination that paramilitary-style clothing must not be worn at any time; flags, bannerettes and symbols relating to a proscribed organisation not be displayed; and musical instruments must not bear any inscription or mark of a proscribed organisation.
All fine and very much in line with the generally prescribed movement towards a shared future… Now have a look at this video of a re-enactment from the Sinn Fein sponsored parade at Galbally in Tyrone on 16th August:
Then see this picture from Galbally. Slugger is told that the guy at the back in the black military uniform may be Ruairí Gildernew, an independent member of the Dungannon DPP listed as a Sinn Fein worker and former Press Officer for the LoughGall 20 commemoration. I say may, because it’s only from the photograph; I’d be happy to hear if it is otherwise).
On the face of it, to the east of the Bann Sinn Fein is prosecuting a reasonably popular campaign to rid the streets of any signs of paramilitary insignia on public display, whilst to the west it is endorsing and even participating in considerably more graphic displays of its own military tradition.
Whichever way you take it, from a Sinn Fein point of view or from the outside, it makes little sense to petition for the abolition for even vaguest of militaristic displays on one hand and then to go ahead use the public highway to portray them in right front of your own leadership (the dFM included) on the other…
At the very least he party’s actions in Galbally undermine its eminently reasonable petitions in places like Rasharkin.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty