A calculated insult to victims

Anne Travers the sister of Mary Travers who was murdered by the IRA outside St. Bridget’s Church on Derryvolgie made a telling intervention in April this year. On that occasion she demolished Pat Cusick of Sinn Fein on RTE’s Liveline (covered by Mick here). Then she was polite, controlled and brilliant as an advocate for victims. Today she has again made her point in the same quiet, powerful and eloquent fashion. This time it was following the news that one of those convicted of the murder of her 23 year old teacher sister (Mary McArdle) has been appointed as a special advisor to Sinn Fein Culture Minister Caral Ni Chuilin. Ms. Travers pointed out that unlike certain other convicted terrorists McArdle has not been elected.

From the BBC:

Ann Travers said she was shocked and felt physically sick by the appointment.
“She’s now (McArdle) in the position in which she is paid by the taxpayer – of which my mum is one,” she added.
“I am absolutely horrified that she has been given such a position.
“I think it’s really wrong and I think she should stand down.”
Ms Travers said she had only found out about McArdle’s job when contacted by the BBC on Wednesday morning, and criticised Sinn Fein for not contacting her.
“They didn’t even have the decency to let us know that this woman involved in the murder of my sister had been given this job,” she said.
“While we all want to move forward and have peace in Northern Ireland, we’re still all allowed to grieve and we should never be asked to stop grieving or forget about our loved ones who were murdered.
“We’re not allowed to move on because every time we want to move on, Sinn Fein turn the knife a little bit more and we’re asked to accept a little bit more from them.”

She also called on Peter Robinson to raise the issue with Martin McGuinness: Mr. Robinson described the move as insensitive on twitter. Ulster Unionist assembly member Robin Swann described the appointment as “a calculated insult to victims”.

Martin McGuinness has previously described the murder of Miss Travers as “regrettable but understandable.”

There is a longer interview with Ms. Travers here on the UTV’s web site along with condemnation from Gregory Campbell, Alban Maginness and Jim Allister who described it as “a new low.”

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  • ItwasSammyMcNally

    Mike the First,

    *smartarse*

    Language and temper please.

    Of course I am pleased that you are happy with the GFA it (though you dont really sound it) it is just that this thread has indicated that some Unionists (I guess including the author of this piece) are not.

    A contributory reason for that unhappiness is the releasing of prisoners, one of whom has now assumed a position which causes considerable pain to her victims.

    Unionist may have actually voted against the agreement ( we dont know) but clealry if they have any lingering resentment about it terms then that should be directed against the British for meeting the Provos bottom line.

  • tacapall

    Blissett

    “The relevence of this is likely limited, but in the interest of clarity Ill ask all the same. The discussion on p.ie seems to indicate that she was charged as being an accomplice after the fact. Is that correct”

    That is correct.

    Those who feel insulted should also understand this is just politics, the British government slapped nationalist in the face when they used the language of ambiguity to exonerate members of the RUC and NIO in Rosemary Nelson’s muder then refused to hand over files they have relating to the Dublin Monaghan bombings. They got a slap in the face back with the appointment of Mary McArdle.

    If those members of the RUC, who implied threats to Rosemary Nelson’s life and done nothing while she was murdered by the same people who they implied would kill her, done no wrong then you can expect Sinn Fein to return the serve.

  • Mark McGregor

    Blissett,

    What you aren’t being open about is how it is very much a positive in many instances. It is considered.

    When a party has an almost hidden branch like the ‘Political Oversight Committee’ (is it still going?) staffed exclusively by former volunteers but seemingly accountable to no one but other former volunteers you have Army elements free to advance other former Army members internally and much of the membership is unaware such things happen nevermind party voters or the broader public.

    SF more than takes into account an army past – it had/has at least one hidden internal wing actively staffed by them and promoting them.

  • Reader

    tacapall: If those members of the RUC, who implied threats to Rosemary Nelson’s life and done nothing while she was murdered by the same people who they implied would kill her, done no wrong then you can expect Sinn Fein to return the serve.
    Well, since you mention the comparison, what is the republican position on killing members of the legal profession just for doing their job?

  • tacapall

    Reader I wouldn’t really know maybe you should ask Pat Finucane’s family or maybe RUC special branch.

  • Wise Up

    We really seem like a backward country..for instance Serbia have given up a notorious war criminal to face charges of crimes he commited in Bosnia, in this part of the world you can be a war criminal with a ‘mandate’ or not and be in a top position in Government! It does not make sense to me…

  • Cynic2

    Now now Reader. Asking difficult questions like that may well be a breach of the Republican Bloggers (Disability) Regulations 2009

  • perseus
  • perseus

    Looks to me like SF are trying the ‘we are the victims’ card, again.

    Sure they will meet Ms Travers and a blind man can see where that would lead. In the words of the profit SF took the piss, again.

  • perseus

    pkin
    uhh headline is loyalist death threat,
    but sure write yer own

  • perseus

    I just assume certain members of SF are always under a loyalist death threat, its certainly a groan I have heard from them several times before. The victim card is a tried and trusted SF fall back position, someone should tell them its past its sell by date.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Maybe I’m a bit thick or something, but since unionist politicians have all obtained some sort of concern for victims, could somebody please explain to me why it is acceptable for the UUP and DUP to vote in Mayor, deputy Mayor, committee chair and other positions for loyalist political representatives who are associated with active and fully armed paramilitary organizations ?

    Where was the need for sensitivity for UDA victims, such as the family of the teenage postman Danny McColgan who was murdered in Rathcoole a few years ago, when the DUP decide to put Tommy Kirkham of the UPRG in place as deputy Lord Mayor in Newtownabbey ?

    In 1993 when the UVF were actively murdering civilians the UUP (with DUP acquiescence) voted for Hugh Smyth of the PUP. Where was the sensitivity to the families of the victims the UVF were adding to the death toll every fortnight ?

    Only last Monday the DUP tried to cobble together a sordid deal with the UDA and UVF’s representatives on Belfast city council. The UVF murdered a man in broad daylight on the Shankill Road a year ago, and they haven’t expressed a single word of apology to the victim’s family. Where was the sympathy or sensitivity then ? Why didn’t Jim Allister have anything to say about it ?

    In every single one of these cases the DUP/UUP could easily have found an alternative candidate. Instead they deliberately chose to reward loyalists with positions of privilege.

    Unionist politicians are using the distress of this poor woman as a deathly political football. They clearly do not care about the victims of paramilitary violence, except when it is inflicted by republicans. They should be ashamed of themselves.

    I note that there hasn’t been a peep from any of them about the reports that death threats have now been issued, no doubt as a result of the grandstanding that goes on. This is where this sickening political football playing can actually lead to people getting killed. As usual, the unionist politicians will simply walk away and say it wasn’t their fault.

    Sometimes I really find myself feeling that Sinn Fein are right on the button when they talk about the way things are done in this country.

  • CS

    No, its not right but nor is it right to deliberately inflict pain on the family of a victim, that applies across the board and if the MSM fail to highlight those cases involving loyalists then that is something that needs to be addressed but it does not detract from the pain of this and other victims family.

    As far as I’m concerned incidents like these delay the unity or at least normality that could lead to unity. At the moment SF are the likely party to bring that unity so imo they should be above the fray not right there in the middle of it. It seems to me that since before the election SF have been stepping backward not forward.

  • 241934 john brennan

    The only surprise in all this is that some people still remain somewhat surprised, that when they vote for the political wing of the IRA, a sizeable wake of Provo vultures then descends upon the listless body politic.

  • Cynic2

    Forgive the cynicism. SF come under political pressure and suddenly the OVF (who they????) threaten them.

  • Comrade Stalin

    pippakin, I don’t think this was a conscious decision to inflict pain on a victim. I know that SF often say to themselves “how can we piss off the unionists” to try to obtain some sort of leverage, but in this case I don’t think they gave this a second thought. This appointee is far from the first person with a conviction in relation to serious crime that has ended up in a job like this.

    I also don’t think that there was anything calculated towards victims whenever unionists sought to reward, as they have done many times over the years, the political representatives of completely unreconstructed loyalist paramilitary murder gangs, racketeers and drug dealers. I can’t imagine why they felt the need to do this, it is best left as an exercise for the reader at home.

    I can’t speak as a victim, but as someone who has been threatened by loyalists, and whose father and uncles narrowly missed death at the hands of the loyalist gangs who were roaming building sites in the 1970s, I can handle the idea that we have to put the past to one side to try to build the future, and indeed many actual victims are forced to handle that every day and have no say in the matter. However, what really fucking gets on my wick is listening to politicans who associated with loyalist paramilitaries and vote them into certain roles in public office, lecturing everyone else on the need to support victims, show sensitivity and stand up to terrorism. It is clear to me that unionist politicians coming off with this stuff do not regard the victims of loyalist violence as having equal status with the victims of republican violence.

    I’m all for normality. To me normality is unionists not talking out of one side of their mouth when they refer to terrorism. Unionists must come clean about the relationship they hold with loyalist paramilitaries and, more seriously, they must work to use their influence to try to stop them, rather than keeping them in their back pocket for future use.

  • CS

    “but in this case I don’t think they gave this a second thought”

    No I don’t suppose they did and that is what is so disgusting about this. A group of people sat in a room and made a decision they should have known would cause bitter pain. Its not possible to switch off responsibility as easily as you swap a balaclava for a three piece suit.

    You’re right unionists are as bad but for me that’s the problem SF should be better than that they should be taking advantage of such actions not repeating them.

    .

  • perseus

    yes CS
    the peddling of hatred towards SF,by the usual bigots encourages these death threats,
    which is the real depravity here
    of course they claim not to see this.
    you couldn’t make it up.
    total fecking hypocrits.

  • Driftwood

    “Sometimes I really find myself feeling that Sinn Fein are right on the button when they talk about the way things are done in this country.”

    The Alliance view on the murder of Ms Travers.

    Her father was a judge, an Uncle Tom, maybe he (and his daughter) ‘deserved’ it.
    They (SF) could have picked some superhero-in their view- who had survived a shootout with the SAS or something. Still wrong but, ya know.
    They chose someone who murdered a 22 year old girl leaving mass.
    And Alliance go ‘fair play to you girl’ sure the prods can be as bad. and *hint* maybe she (Mary Travers) did have some responsibility for her own death.
    *We get to keep the justice ministry, don’t we?*

  • Comrade Stalin

    Driftwood, why are you making up random rubbish and attributing it to me ?

  • Driftwood

    Just quoting what you wrote, you obviously agree with the appointment. Up to you to justify it.

  • Driftwood

    Addendum
    I don’t know anything about so called ‘loyalist’ paramilitaries.
    But I know what they did. Same as ‘republican’ paramilitaries, who may be of higher calibre, in your view. I put them all in the same calibre.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Having read over all of the comments on this thread, I simply do not get the idea that “this is all part of the GFA, just live with it.” Thats a notion that it obviously aimed at the unionist “outrage” at this appointment. But it is nonsense to suggest that the GFA somehow brought about a political landscape where we had to accept people in positions of government who have been convicted of murder and frustrate and pervert the course of justice. The “we” in this instance is “everyone in Northern Ireland”. If the “we” were to become the unionist people, then all you are really saying is that unionists have to accept the will of the nationalist people as well as there own.

    To present this as a moral comprimise that unionist’s made is a nonsense. This is no moral comprimise for unionists – the moral inadequacy of the Unionist position is instead brought to light by the instances that Comrade Stalin points out in his posts above – but thats another story. There is one issue here- the morally defunct position of the majority of Irish Nationalist living in Northern Ireland today. The fact is that most nationalists have bought into the Sinn Fein narrative – to some extent as a consequence of shameful inadaquacy of any alternative.

    We turn to Sinn Fein. Sinn Fein have made an appointment that is insulting. Is it calculated? I would say that it isn’t insofar as it has probably not been done for the sole purpose of offending the victims. However that insult has no doubt been factored into the “calculation.” Other factors will include the fact that in three or four years time when we next go to the polls, the majority of nationalist will have forgotten to the insult even if theres was anything to forget for them.

    But why appoint Ms McArdle. After the wreckage of the last elections for the SDLP, I read the usual stories about SDLP being a peace-process party (they got what they wanted and theres no point anymore). That is without doubt the case. Hume and others achieved their political ambition and left the scene with their heads held high. To understand the appointment of McArdle, it seems to me that you have to ask “What is the SInn Fein political ambition?” Or more particularly, “what is the political ambition of the Sinn Fein leadership?”

    I have wondered why Martin McGuinnes and Gerry Adams get out of bed in morning and bother with it all. I wonder why Gerry has bothered to go and be TD for Louth – a constituency that he has no real tie to and presumably no real care for. Gerry and Marty and most of the Sinn Fein leadership are in the twilight of their political careers and must know that the thing they fought and killed for (a United Ireland) is not achievable for some time. In all likelihood, they will not live to see it and it definately will not happen during their political careers.

    Put simply – the Sinn Fein goal for the last few cycles of elections has been to have their past endorsed. They are achieving it. Why else give jobs to aging provos such as Sheehan? In years to come, when young nationalist open their history books in whats left of our education system for another boring lesson on Irish history, they will read that Sinn Fein became the the party who the people supported in the aftermath of the Peace Process. They were endorsed by the people, even if they weren’t endorsed at the time. They are creating their own history.

    McArdle’s appointment fits right into. Now obviously SInn Fein would not have the balls to put her up for election. She may be rejected because after all she killed a catholic outside mass. But its another wee footnote all the same.

    You get tired watching all of this. It seems that most nationalist dont realise or care about how utterly morally comprimised we are. The idea that on Tuesday, Sinn Fein would call for the sacking of those who failed to protect one Officer of the Court from murder, and then on Wednesday they would promote someone who attempted to murder an Officer of the Court failing only to butcher his daughter. It is deeply depressing.

    I am to some extent relieved only that the Unionist politicians are just as bad. The ridiculous attempts to spin around the failings of the RUC or the numerous examples pointed out by Comrade Stalin. There is still hope for a Nationlist Political party to sieze the centre ground so long as Unionist’s treat it with disdain. I just can’t see who can do it.

  • tacapall

    “You get tired watching all of this. It seems that most nationalist dont realise or care about how utterly morally comprimised we are. The idea that on Tuesday, Sinn Fein would call for the sacking of those who failed to protect one Officer of the Court from murder, and then on Wednesday they would promote someone who attempted to murder an Officer of the Court failing only to butcher his daughter. It is deeply depressing”.

    Sammy morals are for those who control the media it sort of makes your realise that absolutely nothing has changed here. Defination of words separate right and wrong, who’s a terrorist and who’s not, Rosemary Nelson was murdered by an undercar boobytrap bomb, rarely used by loyalists – cant say I remember any who were convicted with this type of activity especially from the LVF and not another attempt since, maybe they dissapeared under the guise of ” Not in the public interests”

  • @Hutz,
    Mary McArdle didn’t kill anyone outside Mass or elsewhere. Not even the witnesses, the Diplock judge, RUC or the PPS suggested she did.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Ulick,

    Two words for you : Joint Enterprise

    Or are you suggesting that because she didn’t pull the trigger she is not culpable?

  • ayeYerMa

    The ludicrous attempts by supporters of PIRA terrorism (as most Nationalist voters appear to be these days) to try and paint the security forces as being moral equivalents of the PIRA just get more and more pathetic. Apparantly Loyalists wouldn’t have the same brainpower to be able to plant explosives as that would require the same intelligence as exemplary geniuses such as Gerry Kelly :/

  • tacapall

    ayeYerMa as more truth emerges every day about the roles of RUC Special branch and British intelligence in the running of murder gangs not only on the loyalist side but also within republicanism it is absolutely clear theres many who pulled the strings of those who pulled the triggers , by the way how come loyalists never murdered any prominent republicans using the type of devices used in the murder of Rosemary Nelson.

  • dwatch

    What was the special type of explosive device used in the murder of Rosemary Nelson? Was it more or less professionally constructed than those used by PIRA which helped Farc terrorists by ‘The Columbia three ‘ ?

  • Reader

    tacapall: by the way how come loyalists never murdered any prominent republicans using the type of devices used in the murder of Rosemary Nelson.
    OK now I’m confused. Are you saying that the security forces only helped with the murder of Rosemary Nelson, or that she was the only murder where they didn’t help?
    And, while we are on the topic of conspiracy theories, how come senior provo suspects were running round the revolving door of the courts instead of dying like flies?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Driftwood:

    Just quoting what you wrote, you obviously agree with the appointment. Up to you to justify it.

    I didn’t say that I agreed with the appointment. I said that the appointment was nothing new.

    Secondly, you also accused me of somehow condoning the murder. I regard what she did as a murder, and a crime. But that’s not the issue I was addressing. But sure, most of the stuff around here goes over your head anyway.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Lionel,

    The stuff about people getting what they voted for is all true. But why in particular is this case so much worse than the others ? Like I said earlier, political life here, in the parties and in the assembly, is full of people who committed similar, or worse, acts. It’s not like we all woke up on Monday morning and found people with terrorist-related convictions suddenly being appointed to things without anyone noticing.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Drifty:

    I don’t know anything about so called ‘loyalist’ paramilitaries.

    It fits perfectly with the way that this debate is framed that you only concern yourself with republican paramilitaries.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Comrade,

    It’s not much different at all. I am equally as frustrated with how the past of Sinn Fein in general has become romanticised. As I said, i’m tired talking about it now. Most nationalists don’t care that our position is morally compromised. It undermines our ability to deal with the dissident republican narrative and it undermines our ability to deal with the scandals of the security services. Just as we cannot take the high position after Saville, afterall our lead politician was there with a gun and willing to use it, we cannot call for scrutiny into the gross neglience of those in the RUC and NIO in 1999, some of whom may be administering justice in their successors today.

    I suppose the only difference with McArdle is that she was involved in the brutal killing of a catholic outside Mass who still frustrates the investigation into the murder. I don’t think Sinn Fein would have the balls to seek a mandate for her. It shouldn’t make a difference ofcourse but it was one of those acts that brought into focus that most nationalists did not support PIRA.

    But anyway, your point is correct and I see no distinction between her and Martin McGuinness et al, save for the fact that he has a mandate – which is not really a big difference.

    I think the context of the appointment has exasperated me a bit. And ofcourse, if the SDLP or any other nationalist who opposed militant republicanism were to speak out, they are shot down for living in the past. I don’t want to live in a world where Sinn Fein is the only voice for our people in the jurisdiction in which I live and should I have children, I don’t want them to grow up in a community that endorses the PIRA as a heroic and romantic movement.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Comrade,

    The only other motivation for my initial post last night was to point out that whilst this is case of people getting what they vote for, it’s what they voted for in 2011 not the referendum in 1998 that gave us the GFA. The course of this thread had suggested that unionist a moral compromise in the GFA and they should blame the Brits – they didn’t and they shouldn’t.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Unionists *made* a moral compromise.

  • Mike the First

    Ulick

    In the same way that Torren Knight, the notorious Greysteel murderer, “never killed anyone”, you mean?

  • Mike the First

    Comrade Stalin

    You make some good points, but you equate convicted terrorist murderers with members of the political wings of terrorist groups, and I’m pretty sure there have been arguments put that there’s a distinction.

    On another note, it might be helpful if you distinguished between “unionists” and “unionist politicians” (failing to do so is very “Brian Feeney”).

  • DC

    @mike the first

    good point about unionist and unionist politicians – there is a massive gulf between the two – recent elections prove this as unionist turnout is dropping and dropping. Large blocs of would-be unionists simply just don’t want to know.

  • wee buns

    Lionel

    ‘’There is one issue here- the morally defunct position of the majority of Irish Nationalist living in Northern Ireland today. The fact is that most nationalists have bought into the Sinn Fein narrative – to some extent as a consequence of shameful inadaquacy of any alternative.’’

    It seems to me that this very tiresome one dimensional political system has been engineered (successfully by the designers of GFA) through a series of ‘choices’….not alone by the ’98 referenda or any single subsequent election.

    Interwoven into carefully limited choices was/is the persistent idea of ‘peace’ = the absence of conflict. Which has had a hugely narrowing effect on the terms of political debate: no ideological differences have been able to emerge between SF/SDLP and alternative views on the nationalist/republican position have been fragmented and marginalized.

    Meanwhile the institutions of authority are intact, as can be seen by the reaction to the R.Nelson report.

    Certainly SF is busy writing their romantic history; by appointing the likes of McArdle, it serves to appease a certain section of nationalism of course.

    I think it also allows SF to continue with the pretense that they have not accepted partition. But how long can that web of illusion last, I don’t know.

  • Lionel Hutz

    “It seems to me that this very tiresome one dimensional political system has been engineered (successfully by the designers of GFA) through a series of ‘choices’….not alone by the ’98 referenda or any single subsequent election”

    Wee buns,

    You are right, the only hope I have is that the whole thing is still in its infancy. We have had one full term of politics and we already started to see policy becoming a little bit more important. The killing of Ronan Kerr, made this election once again about the peace process. Sinn Fein use the “peace process” as a cover for their shockingly bad politics.

    In any case, I still have some hope that things will change. We have 3 years with no elections. 3 years in which the political institutions will not be pre-occuppied with electioneering. Lets see how they get on. If the next three years continue as they ahve started, I’m not Sinn Fein will have the same cover.

    But all of that depends on an alternative, the SDLP and UUP are not providing one. I’m not sure that the Alliance will be effectively able to provide an alternative with the current “arrangements.” But more likely, voting numbers will drop. If we drop below 50%, what does that say about the legitimacy of stormont

  • Comrade Stalin

    Lionel,

    The part about the moral compromise of nationalism is something that I agree with. I don’t like the term “morals”, I seem to associate it with old time right wing/bible thumper types (and no, you’re obviously not in this category) but I never agreed with the idea that for the peace process to be successful, Sinn Fein had to be coaxed/bribed in from the cold.

    This is why I don’t care for the SDLP or John Hume. When you hear people talking about what a great man Hume was and how he made peace etc, what they are referring to is Hume-Adams, which was nothing other than the business of creating that moral whitewash that you are referring to. Hume was successful in only one thing, which was that he changed the course of politics here such that Sinn Fein would become a central part of the process. I never accepted that this was necessary and I still don’t, but things have moved on – SF are now the leaders of Irish nationalism in NI and the fact that they are now an integral part of the process is a fundamental reality, not an aspiration of the SDLP leadership. You have to play the hand you are dealt.

    So I don’t blame the GFA for this, I blame the SDLP and John Hume. Without Hume-Adams, the GFA would have happened a few years earlier, the DUP would have been on board, and it would have been substantially the same document except without the prisoner releases. I believe that powersharing probably would have prevailed and that the IRA would have been forced to call a ceasefire and disarm in any case.

  • Lionel Hutz

    Comrade,

    I dont get most of your post. The idea that bringing Adams and co in from the cold was a moral comprimise is not something I agree with. What Hume did was find a way for Adams to join the process. What happened from there on in was down to the electorate. Where in the Hume-Adams talks were Sinn Fein guaranteed a place in either the Assembly or the Executive. Obviously these institutions weren’t set up at the time – but I mean that no mandate was guaranteed.

    You can argue about the prisoner release scheme, but I think that was a neccessary if uncomfortable comprimise. And again, I dont think it undermined anyones principles or morals. It was just a political comprimise.

    I dont believe there is a moral comprimise from Unionists or Nationalists as part of the GFA or anything since.

    What I am saying is what the Nationalist people have done in their tens of thousands is lose sight of any sort principle or moral position (I really cant think of a better word than Moral)? We were given a choice and over the last 13 years, more and mroe of us have chosen poorly.

    Its not part of the GFA, its not part of Hume-Adams. Its just a decision people make when they put down their numbers in the ballot paper. Why are they doing it? Why are the voting for them?

  • Comrade Stalin

    The idea that bringing Adams and co in from the cold was a moral comprimise is not something I agree with. What Hume did was find a way for Adams to join the process.

    The fundamental detail is not that Adams and SF were brought into the process; it is that John Hume successfully argued that the process could not take place until SF were incorporated in it. I don’t see how you can divorce this from the moral compromise you are talking about.

    Where in the Hume-Adams talks were Sinn Fein guaranteed a place in either the Assembly or the Executive. Obviously these institutions weren’t set up at the time –

    Hume-Adams was never about the assembly, the executive or anything else, at that time nobody was talking along those lines. In the early 1990s the only people who were publicly calling for a return to Sunningdale-type power sharing were Alliance. The DUP and UUP wanted the old Stormont back, the UUP were hard to pin down but they talked alternately about the old Stormont being returned, or with closer UK integration. SDLP policy was joint authority (“an agreed Ireland”); Sinn Fein’s policy was that all-party talks should commence to discuss everything including British withdrawal. No – Hume Adams was quite simply about putting Sinn Fein in the centre of the process. They didn’t discuss anything else.

    but I mean that no mandate was guaranteed.

    Sinn Fein needed John Hume to make them acceptable to nationalist voters and expand their electoral appeal. They then casually discarded the SDLP when they were no longer of use to them. Clever politics really.

    You can argue about the prisoner release scheme, but I think that was a neccessary if uncomfortable comprimise. And again, I dont think it undermined anyones principles or morals. It was just a political comprimise.

    I don’t understand what you mean when you use the word “morals” if you don’t think that it applies to the decision over prisoner releases.

    I’m not arguing about the prisoner release scheme, I voted for the GFA and would do so again today. The releases were a cheap concession to buy off the paramilitaries; almost all of the prisoners would have been due for release within a few years of the GFA anyway.