Sinn Fein turning on a sixpence over the Quinn family affair?

The good lord knows that Sinn Fein did not invent that old Irish political stock in trade of saying one thing to one set of people and saying quite another to another set… but the party’s split voice on the Quinn family debacle (the Independent has some of the personal detail) is striking…

So the MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone gave the Irish government both barrels for its treatment of the Fermanagh businessman:

He has been treated disgracefully by the Irish Government. Had they not tried to strip him off all his assets, including his home, deny him the ability to function in business, and routinely try to humiliate him I believe he would have paid back every penny he owed to the Irish taxpayer.

He accepted he had done wrong, but all our attempts to make the government show some comment sense were ignored. He is being punished for having the audacity to ‘buy the bank; and for being an ordinary man from Fermanagh who is hugely respected by his community.

That’s not a statement that’s been carried on the party website… Instead, there’s a rather short statement from Mary Lou McDonald (de facto Serjeant-at-Arms of the party’s southern constitutional project, and would be scourge of fat cats everywhere), which could be read as a direct rebuke to her northern colleague:

…neither loyalty nor emotion can be allowed to get in the way of justice being done in the Quinn case or, indeed, any other that may arise.

“The matter is before the courts and that is where the final judgement will be made. The Quinns chose to put a lot into the public domain concerning their case, including the fact that company law was breached and that they have moved assets beyond the reach of IBRC.

As the IBRC is now fully state-owned, money owed to it by the Quinns is money owed the state. The Quinns have an obligation to abide by the law the same as any other citizen. They also have an obligation to work with IBRC to repay what they owe.

Quite so Mary Lou! It’s all just a practical way of procuring compliance…

As the Irish Times points out in a robust and forthright editorial this morning, gets right to the heart of the issue (and Sinn Fein is not the only national organisation in the dock for refusing to tell it like it is:

Mr Quinn’s bluff and bluster attempts to convince a sceptical public that he is more sinned against than sinning have failed to impress. He has sought to cultivate a sense of victimhood in order to exonerate himself and to blame others for mistakes and misjudgments of his own making. In doing so he has managed to sound like a fool while acting like a knave.There can only be one winner in all this. And from what we have seen so far, it will not be Mr Quinn. Speaking truth to power can require moral courage.

Speaking truth to Mr Quinn is the best service that his friends who hold his best interests at heart – not least those in the GAA – can and should now provide.