Recent polls suggest that Sinn Féin may
have little to worry about following the McCartney murder and the
Northern Bank heist.
This will disappoint many who thought that the criminal
activities of the Provisional movement would have resulted in some
electoral damage to Sinn Féin.
It is a sad indictment of where we are as a society that it does not. Sinn Féin wields a mandate as lethally as paramilitaries wield M-16s.
For more than 20 years Sinn Féin has assiduously conditioned
sections of the nationalist community into mirroring the most repugnant
practices of unreconstructed loyalism.
The appalling vista of systematic bigotry; the subrogation of
ordinary people in the pursuit of false patriotism and the coat
trailing of flags and marches are now as important to the nationalist
psyche as it is to those on the loyalist side.
Of course, finding the black-tie circuit closed to the Sinn
Féin hierarchy has bruised the egos of some in the Provisional elite.
The recent awakening of American consciousness to the true face of the
Provisional movement is amazing.
Where have these people been for the past 30 years? Why did
the murder of Mr McCartney cause them more indigestion than the murders
of Jerry McCabe or Frank Kerr?
Since the ceasefires, by donning a veil of democracy Sinn Féin
distracted the democratic world from the reality of Provisional
criminality and the smell of sulphur.
These days some of those who feted the Sinn Féin leadership
and wet nursed them into the mainstream political process are having
restless nights; though some through personal vanity still don't see
the magnitude of their actions.
The only consolation of being duped by the Provisional
movement into believing they were buying into democracy is that they
also duped many of their own followers even if that reality has not
dawned on some of them yet.
For the majority of the nationalist community there never was any romantic notion about murder and the representatives of mainstream
nationalism were unambiguous in condemning any notion that murder could
be somehow justified.
Unionism bears much of the responsibility for the electoral
appeal of Sinn Féin and the increasingly uncompromising attitude of the
wider nationalist community.
The stubborn refusal by unionists to countenance power-sharing
measures until it was begrudgingly dragged from them in the Good Friday
Agreement has tempered any enthusiasm within the nationalist community
for any genuine or sincere attempts to move things on.
It is clear that some unionists, particularly those in the
DUP, believe that by the strength of their mandate they can undo the
cooperation between the British and Irish governments.
It is duplicitous in the extreme for some unionists to try to
fool anyone in Northern Ireland into believing we could ever be as
'British as Finchley', and the struggle faced by secular unionists in
reining in anti-Catholic rhetoric of the bigoted fanatics in their own
ranks is proof, if proof was needed, that equality for some unionists
is a one-way street.
Sinn Féin is a formidable electoral opponent and unionist
talks about electoral pacts aimed at limiting their growth will provide
Sinn Féin with an electoral trump card.
Those who encourage such unity of purpose among unionist
political parties are short sighted and their only gain will be the
further polarization of the north.
Whether Arlene Foster or Michelle Gildernew holds
Fermanagh/South Tyrone is irrelevant. Unionists once held all but two
of the Northern Ireland Westminster seats and three-quarters of all
seats in Stormont and still they could not govern the place, and no
British government will ever allow them to govern again without a
power-sharing executive and meaningful all-Ireland structures being in
place. Similarly, the Provisional movement are no closer to their goal
of a 32-county socialist republic in 2005 than they were in 1975!
The Provisional movement has successfully mirrored loyalism
not only in fanning the flames of sectarianism but also now in
commissioning acts of criminality. Now the DUP seem intent on showing
Sinn Féin that they can mirror republican media antics too. We have two
political Medusas facing one another and it's not a pretty sight.
Elections in the north have rarely solved anything and the
forthcoming elections will be no different. Those in the British and
Irish government who saw the Ulster Unionists and the SDLP as two lame
duck parties have found themselves with two fighting cocks in the DUP
and Sinn Féin.
Unfortunately, two years on the electorate ended up with a turkey of a result. Let's hope it's not a re-run this time around!