Tuesday, February 22, 2005

House of Cards

Daily Ireland has an editorial on the latest crisist in the peace process:

Sinn Féin wakens this morning under a tidal wave of outrage after the latest developments in the Garda investigation into money laundering. Yet, after all the bluster, the reality is that the one man charged is being linked by Gardaí to the Real IRA. The only Sinn Féin representative arrested has been released without charge.

No wonder that Martin McGuinness yesterday was urging the public not to rush to judgement on claims that the republican movement was reeling from the Garda operation.

Shamefully, though the entire house of cards linking the Garda operation to the republican movement has collapsed, some politicians are continuing to speak of the Garda investigation as a massive blow to the republican movement. Republicans have much to think about after recent events. They can justifiably contend, however, that this latest Garda operation has nothing to do with them.

Political figures who view recent events as providing them with the best opportunity they have had in a month of Sundays to score points over republicans have been dominating the airways over the past 48 hours.

But while republicans may shrug off the brickbats from these traditional opponents, they can't as easily dismiss the concerns of ordinary nationalists who are increasingly bewildered at the train wreck which is now the peace process. To many ordinary nationalists, the IRA has now become the glass chin of Sinn Féin.

While the IRA are not, as the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister allege, the only obstacle to a peace process settlement, they are one of the obstacles. That much is accepted by the IRA and underpinned their commitment before Christmas to enter a new mode. That breathtaking compromise fell apart because republicans weren't prepared to be humiliated by the DUP.

But since that deal collapsed, republicans have been denigrated and pilloried the length and breadth of Ireland while the DUP have been on the crest of a wave.

The reality is that Sinn Féin's political project has been damaged by the Northern Bank heist and the vicious stabbing to death of Robert McCartney.

It's open season on Sinn Féin and while that party is robust enough to defend itself, you can be sure that ordinary nationalists will be under the lash as well.

Phil Flynn, a strong supporter of this newspaper since it was first mooted, is just one person of unquestionable integrity caught in the crossfire this morning. We have no doubt his good name will be cleared in the coming weeks.

Every tinpot reactionary who gets an opportunity to smear ordinary, decent nationalists and bona fide, nationalist-minded organisations will be on the bandwagon this weekend.

All will be tarred with the brush of criminality when in reality, their only 'crime' will be to espouse a political point of view different to that of the governments in Dublin and London.

And yet, even as the storm of condemnation rages, it’s vital that we defend the right to point out that all the flaws in the peace process are not the fault of republicans.

There are many sides to this unfolding tale, and many, many shades of grey. Who, for example, would ever have believed that Northern Bank notes would turn up in a country club favoured by the PSNI?


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