(by Harry Barnes, Source UK)
Dear GerryJanuary 21, 2002
Today is the first day on which you can claim office space and parliamentary allowances. Youll see from last months debate in the Commons that I did much to support the proposition that you and your colleagues are given offices in the Commons.
Together with the allowances, this should net about half a million pounds for Sinn Fein. This tidy little sum will go some way to making up the shortfall in funding from gullible Americans who were outraged by the IRA activities in Colombia organised by your friend, lets just call him bungling Brian.
You know yourself how angry the US Administration was since Richard Haas told you to your face. He is reported to have said the following: "If any American, service personnel or civilian, is killed in Colombia by the technology the IRA supplied then you can f... off." Haas added Dont tell me you know nothing about whats going on there, we know everything about it. Bang to rights, I say.
The good thing that came out of this mess was that the IRA started decommissioning, at last, and I ask that you agree that this process must continue. And it also created the atmosphere in which you and your fellow MPs will get office space.
Im now proposing that the Commons spends some extra money - by taking out an annual subscription to An Phoblacht/Republican News (APRN).
I know that it is a bitter little rag, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the IRA. But I want all MPs to be able to read it regularly so that they can better understand the primitive politics of your party.
APRN has changed. It no longer carries that twisted column, War News, which praised IRA murders. But APRN still glorifies IRA actions. The paper exulted the murder of the Unionist MP, Robert Bradford, even as you were on the way to getting offices here in the Commons.
My view, as I told the Commons, is that Sinn Fein gets away with murder in media interviews. I want to make sure that MPs are fully briefed on your politics and can tackle your contradictions, help you to move away from the conflict which you did so much to create and sustain and work with you on issues of common concern.
But I have some questions about your double standards. The main double standard concerns the continuing victims of the Troubles. On the one hand, your movement has benefited from the release of all its prisoners, many of whom were convicted of heinous crimes and who often live cheek by jowl with the relatives of their victims.
And next, several Provos on the run will have all outstanding proceedings waived. But what about those who are on the run from the Provos?
But the republican movement still has prisoners. Your organisation has exiled many thousands of people from Northern Ireland over the past 30 years. They may not be in prisons but they are exiled from their loved ones and many want to return home. There are some children, now adults, who think their fathers are dead when in fact they have been forcibly exiled. Will you make it clear that the IRAs life sentences on these exiles should and will be rescinded?
And there is another category of exiles. These are the people who broke the rules of the IRA by informing on its illegal activities to the proper authorities.
Very many of them have already been murdered. You used to know Eamon Collins and its a fair bet that you know who brutally bludgeoned him to death in Newry. You know who tried to murder Marty McGartland for one of the men who kidnapped him was your own bodyguard.
My question is whether you will wipe the slate clean and say that these informers are free to return home, if they wish. Your prisoners have been released. Its time for some payback. Release the exiles and lift your fatwas now, please. Such a humanitarian move would do much to redeem the Republican Movement.
If you need to know anymore about the position of the exiles, please take a long look at the report of the Northern Ireland Select Committee. This is being debated in February and I am inviting you to attend the debate and speak to those who are concerned about it.
So Gerry, I look forward to welcoming you to the Palace of Westminster and chatting to you, your colleagues and your staff. But if we are to make a fresh start, we need answers to questions such as mine. If you want to take the Queens shilling, you must be prepared for a rough ride too.
Harry Barnes is the Member of Parliament for North East Derbyshire. This article appeared on the SourceUK.net web site on January 8, 2002.