It’s time Sinn Féin recognised our jurisdiction and honoured its laws

BERTIE AHERN says he won’t apologise to Sinn Féin for suggesting that the leadership had foreknowledge that the IRA was responsible for the Northern Bank robbery.

"What the Taoiseach has accused me and Martin McGuinness of doing is being involved in a conspiracy, [of being] involved in the prior knowledge of the largest bank robbery in the history of these islands. That is what he has accused us of being involved in and I find that highly offensive," Gerry Adams complained.

His wounded innocence was not convincing.

In terms of bank robberies, robbing the Northern Bank was small in comparison with what AIB robbed from the State in taxes during the 1980s, in addition to what they stole from their own customers by overcharging. That crowd gave a whole new meaning to the term bank robbery, yet not one of the people responsible has even been charged, much less convicted, fined, or jailed. But when it comes to being offensive I cannot think of any more offensive statement than that the murder of Jean McConville was not a crime. That offends just about every moral code because her murder was the single most abhorrent premeditated act in the IRA's whole sordid history since 1922.

The widowed mother of 10 children, the eldest of whom was only 14, was taken from her home on December 7, 1972, in front of her terrified children and then murdered. For what? For helping a wounded British soldier who sought her assistance. Since when did doing one's Christian duty become a capital offence in Ireland?

Of course, in the twisted psyche of the North, she had already transgressed by being a Protestant who dared to marry a Catholic. For this she was disowned by her own side and never really accepted by the Catholics. When it comes to Northern bigotry, don't delude yourself into thinking that the bigots are only on one side. They are on both sides of the divide, and the Catholic bigots are just as bad as the Protestant bigots.

Justice Minister Michael McDowell asked Mitchel McLaughlin if the shooting of Jean McConville was a crime. "I think it was wrong," McLaughlin replied.

McDowell is a skilful debater but Mitchel apparently thought he had him on the ropes. "I didn't introduce the topic in the discussion," McLaughlin argued afterwards.

Over recent years Sinn Féin spokespersons have been masters of obfuscation. They did not answer questions they disliked. They called on others to explain themselves, to clarify, and to justify, but when it suited them, they prevaricated. They even argued that asking them to clarify was an attempt to humiliate them. But being an experienced lawyer, McDowell did not fall for the usual tactics: he pressed the question. He wanted to know if McLaughlin thought the McConville murder was a crime. "No, I do not," Mitchel replied.

"I was pressing the Minister for Justice on the lack of action on outstanding issues such as collusion, criminality at the heart of the British government as far as republicans are concerned," McLaughlin explained, "and I think that, on the ropes, the minister threw in Jean McConville."

In boxing parlance, it was a sucker punch and in political terms it was a knockout. Sinn Féin and the IRA never gave a damn about what the British thought. The real issue is the collusion and criminality at the heart of the so-called republican movement. Are

we to assume now that such collusion and criminality have not gone away because they somehow believe they have some kind of God-given right to deem anything they do legal, no matter how criminal or vile the act?

Arthur Morgan, the Sinn Féin deputy from Louth, had a night to think about Mitchel McLaughlin's faux pas before he declared that the murder of Jean McConville was not a crime. Compounding the matter, he went on to try to justify it by suggesting that she was some kind of informer.

Sinn Féin leaders have been doing a song and dance about Tony Blair and Bertie Ahern accusing the IRA of the Northern Bank robbery without producing any evidence. In fairness, they have a point, but on the McConville issue they are exposing themselves as a bunch of bloody hypocrites. In more than 30 years since they murdered Jean McConville, these so-called republicans did not produce one shred of evidence to support their charge that she was some kind of informer, much less any justification for the murder. What they did was more than murder; it was murder compounded by a heinous form of child abuse.

IN January 1921, Michael Collins had his assassins in "The Squad" kill Willie Doran, a double-dealing hotel porter but they did not kill him in front of his children.

Indeed, when his wife appealed to Collins for Sinn Féin money in the mistaken belief that her husband had been murdered by the British, the Big Fellow ordered that the money be given to her because he did not want he children ever to know what their father had done.

The point that Michael McDowell was trying to highlight on Questions & Answers was that Sinn Féin people claim that the IRA's army council are the real government.

We thought Sinn Féin was abandoning all that crap when they signed up to the Good Friday Agreement, but it seems that these so-called republicans may not have abandoned their old ways at all.

A dictionary definition of republic is "a state in which the supreme power rests in the people, or in officers elected by them". The overwhelming majority of the people of this island voted for the Good Friday Agreement in which Sinn Féin indicated that it was accepting the existing democratic political set-up until the people decide to change it.

Whether the so-called republicans allowed themselves to be deluded by a perverted logic into thinking that the McConville murder was not a crime at the time, acceptance of the Good Friday Agreement means that they must now accept that such behaviour is criminal, and there must be no confusion, prevarication or obfuscation on that point.

In fairness to Mitchel McLaughlin, he did state that the McConville killing was wrong, before he went on to suggest that it was not a crime. It was a crime to subject those children to the horror of seeing their mother kidnapped. It was a crime to deny her due process. It was a crime to murder her. It was a crime not only to leave those children orphaned but to subject them to the uncertainty of what happened to their mother by not even having the decency to allow her body to be found for more than 30 years. It was a crime to bury her the way that they did in this state.

If they cannot see that, then they clearly do not even understand the meaning of decency. It is not just that people holding such twisted views are not fit to sit in government no decent politician with any sense of morality should sit in government with anyone who would condone such behaviour.

It is time we had some clear thinking and clear expression from Sinn Féin. They must abandon their old ways.

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