Sinn Feins great capacity for fund raising,
the British governments decision to withhold
£120,000 from the organisations coffers
will not cause undue distress for the party treasurer.
Of much greater concern to the party leadership however,
will be the incalculable damage the International
Monitoring Commission (IMC) report has inflicted on
their political ambitions.
Fein party spokespersons have striven dutifully to
offset the damage done by casting doubt on the commissioners
impartiality and by asking if this type of report
is legitimate under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement.
In fairness to Sinn Fein, it has a point. One time
Deputy Directors of the CIA and former heads of Scotland
Yards Anti-terrorist Unit are hardly the type
of people one would automatically assume to be utterly
impartial in matters concerning the IRA.
this is of little significance in term of perception
and in these cases, perception can be everything.
The overwhelming majority of other participants on
the Northern Irish political scene have accepted the
Commissions findings without demur and are busily
taking advantage of the republican partys discomfort.
Such is the world of politics Sinn Fein may
have good reason to cry foul but nobody else is listening.
practical outworking of the report therefore, is that
unionism of all shades will now claim justification
for their refusal to deal with Sinn Fein and in publicity
terms their assertions will be difficult to refute.
The IMC has after all, delivered the next best thing
to the smoking-gun. The Democratic Unionist
Party will be more sanctimoniously unbending than
ever and Ulster Unionists will not dare break the
embargo on entering an executive with so-called Sinn
Fein/IRA. Representative politics in the North
will remain on hold until something of
significance can be done about the Provos.
Fein cannot be too blasé about this. Much of
the partys support is now dependent on its ability
to accomplish the day-to-day tasks of representative
politics. Sooner or later this new constituency will
demand that political pragmatists fill the vacuum
created by a movement that is to all intents and purposes
once again an abstentionist organisation. Moreover,
the partys opportunities in the southern part
of Ireland must eventually be damaged by these allegations
because in reality, Sinn Feins success in the
Republic is due to the absence of an active IRA.
course none of this should come as a surprise to seasoned
observers. Something similar happened to both Clann
na Phoblachta and the Workers Party in the past. Sinn
Fein is now facing the same agonising decision and
it would be very surprising if leading persons in
the movement are not posing the question hypothetically
naturally if the party would not be better
to divest itself of elements that are now maybe surplus
to requirement. Busy commentators might be tempted
to write up their reports now and have copy ready
for submission ahead of competitors.
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