and republicanism share a common celebration this
year - the centenary of two of the most influential
movements within their respective histories, the
formation of the Ulster Unionist Council on 3rd
March, 1905, and the founding of Sinn Fein by Arthur
Griffith on 28th November, 1905.
than be viewed as major landmarks in the development
of the two ideologies, they should be used as an
opportunity to undo two of the greatest political
betrayals in the turbulent history of this island.
unionists, the formation of the UUC - now the 900-delegate
governing body of the Ulster Unionist Party - represented
a betrayal of the tens of thousands of Irish unionists
who lived outside the geographical nine-county province
of Ulster, then an integral part of an Ireland united
under British rule.
naming of the body formed to mobilise Protestant
opinion and people against Home Rule using a distinctive
'Ulster' title, was in effect the beginning of a
'retreatist' policy by Northern unionists.
than two decades later, when the Treaty was signed
in December 1921 creating Northern Ireland, unionists
had not only condemned the pro-Union community in
Leinster, Munster and Connacht to a 26-county, republican
Free State, but they also abandoned three of the
geographical Ulster counties to a similar fate.
reality, the UUC should have been established as
the Irish Unionist Council, thereby providing a
rallying point for all unionists throughout the
island and not just in the Protestant-dominated
north-eastern counties of Ireland.
heroes of traditional unionism - Lord Edward Carson
and Sir James Craig - must bear the blame for what
we can now label in the 21st century as the 'Great
this year of unionist commemoration, this great
betrayal can be undone by the DUP and UUP either
working towards the creation of a single Unionist
Party, as well as officially opening a Unionist
Embassy in Leinster House to represent the dwindling
Southern Protestant population.
Irish nationalism, too, does not escape the shame
of its own 'Great Separatist Betrayal'. With no
less than half a dozen nationalist and republican
parties and groups claiming to be the true political
descendents of Arthur Griffith, the sad reality
is that had he been alive today, he would probably
have disowned the lot.
Griffith must be spinning in his grave at the political
shambles which the modern Provisional republican
movement has created 100 years on from the launch
of the party in Dublin.
fact, if Griffith made a Lazarus-style comeback
from the dead, he'd probably call for the disbanding
the new millennium version of Sinn Fein as a gross
betrayal of the original principles of the movement
time has now come for the middle class, educated
doves within Sinn Fein to take the party back to
the strategy of its founding father. Griffith was
a separatist, not a republican and believed passionately
in the concept of passive resistance, not the mass
slaughter tactics of the Provos.
Sinn Fein proposed a dual monarchy system for ruling
Ireland to be achieved entirely through a passive
policy of abstention rather than by an armed struggle.
his peaceful protest movement was hijacked by nationalist
extremists and Far Left socialists who virtually
reduced Sinn Fein to a non-entity because of the
disastrous Easter Rising of 1916.
would have died of shame, not exhaustion, in 1922
had he known his party was to become the apologists
for ethnic cleansing, punishment beatings, and -
according to Chief Constable Hugh Orde - the biggest
bank heist ever on the island.
journalist by trade, he once edited a newspaper
called The United Irishman. His vision for Sinn
Fein was more akin to the policies of radical Irish
Presbyterianism than the Marxist rant of the Workers'
Party, the revolutionary clap-trap of the Irish
Republican Socialist Party, or indeed the extreme
socialist agenda of the Provos.
would have laughed at the political dinosaur language
of Republican Sinn Fein and the 32-County Sovereignty
Movement. Attempts by Fianna Fail and Fine Gael
to claim a link to his 1905 movement, Griffith would
have dismissed as electioneering rhetoric.
is somewhat ironic that Provisional Sinn Fein will
probably be the most vocal throughout 2005 in claiming
Griffith as its mentor. Why? Because for almost
a generation its military wing conducted a border
ethnic cleansing policy against Presbyterian farmers
- the very people who inspired Griffith to form
his policy of Sinn Fein - We Ourselves - in the
the modern day Sinn Fein wants to truly become the
party which Griffith intended it to be, then it
has to ditch the IRA in the same way that Ian Paisley's
DUP eventually dumped the red berets of the Ulster
Resistance Movement in the late 1980s.
took no part in the Easter Rising, and eventually
lost his influence with extreme nationalists. It
was only recovered when he was jailed with other
Sinn Fein members by the British in Frongoch, a
detention camp in Wales in the latter half of 1916.
his release, he masterminded the Sinn Fein General
Election victory of 1918 when the party took 73
seats, polling almost 500,000 votes across the island.
He proved that a political strategy worked, which
was why the outbreak of the Irish Civil War had
such a heavy toll on his health. He died in Dublin
a matter of weeks after the war erupted.
Fein must not commemorate its centenary by heaping
further insults on its founder. It must again become
a party of respectable separatists, not a movement
for physical force, diehard republicans and closet
power to restore the true Griffith vision of Sinn
Fein lies in the hands of the Catholic middle class
of Ireland. They, and they alone, can bring back
the ethos and enthusiasm which inspired the real
democratic policies of radical Presbyterianism and
the Cumann nan Gaedheal (Society of Gaels).
this became a reality, then Griffith would be smiling
rather than spinning; indeed, all Irish eyes would