Monday, May 02, 2005

The McCartneys and Sinn Fein

John Murray Brown:

Barely a month after the McCartney sisters were among President George W. Bush's guests at the White House for the St Patrick's day reception, their bid to bring their brother's IRA killers to justice is having surprisingly little impact on the general election campaign in Northern Ireland.

A small group last week confronted Gerry Adams, president of Sinn Féin, the IRA's political wing, as he canvassed in the Markets area of Belfast, close to where Robert McCartney was murdered.

But the protest was not by supporters of the family but by relatives and friends of those party members suspended over the incident. The members include those allegedly involved in the murder and those who helped clean the bar of evidence to frustrate the police investigation.

Indeed, for all the international media attention and the universal revulsion at the killing, as well as cynicism at Sinn Féin's damage limitation exercise, it does not appear to be translating into votes for Sinn Féin's rivals.

Some observers believe the sisters' decision to take their campaign to the US was the moment many natural sympathisers lost interest.

"I haven't met anybody in Belfast who thought the trip to Washington was a good idea. The sight of the six of them going to the ball didn't play well in Belfast," says a local political scientist.

As I said previously, the McCartneys were foolish if they thought they could win any sympathy back home by hanging out with the likes of George W. Bush.


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