One of the most disturbing aspects of the ongoing general election campaign is that thousands of the younger generation may vote for Sinn Féin while being in absolute and complete ignorance of the true nature of this party and the number of its present members who have been involved in acts of Provisional IRA violence.
In this context it is equally disturbing that so many politicians (as well as the media) seem reluctant to point out that Sinn Fein includes high profile members like Mary McArdle, who was part of a gang of IRA thugs who gunned down 23-year-old Mary Travers; Gerry Kelly, who was part of an IRA gang that planted a car bomb in central London, injuring and maiming more than 200 innocent people; Martin Ferris, a high ranking ex-Provo who was convicted of importing explosives, and more recently remembered for collecting the IRA killers of Garda Jerry McCabe from prison on their release; Sean Lynch, MLA, another Sinn Féin ex-Provo, convicted of possession of explosives, etc.
For the many victims of Provisional IRA violence, it has been galling to hear Gerry Adams declare that the IRA members who tortured and murdered Tom Oliver should not face the courts as the killing was “political” and that a high ranking Provo, Martin McGuinness, was not a terrorist but a “freedom fighter”.
Such statements implicitly legitimise Provo murders.
Then we have Sinn Féin’s leader, Mary Lou McDonald, recently refusing to condemn the attempted murder of Arlene Foster’s father by the Provisional IRA.
Most of the Irish people have shown collective amnesia and a sometimes craven indifference to the victims of Provisional IRA violence. This,together with a shockingly ignorant younger generation, will allow many people to vote for Sinn Féin, a party that according to Senator Michael McDowell, is “rigidly controlled by a small clique of Provo veterans who are puppet-masters in what appears to be a normal democratic party”.
This readers' opinion was originally published in the letters page of the Irish Examiner print edition on 5 February 2020.