I give my second preference vote to Sinn Féin.
There are two reasons why people vote Sinn Féin. One is that they DON’T know Sinn Féin. One is that they DO Sinn Féin.
I know SF very well. I have been around even longer than they have.
At times (such as the election in the South in February) there seems a vague historic link between Sinn Féin and the Irish Republican Army. And at other times, such as the big funeral earlier this week, the connexion is much more obvious.
It is of course nuanced. Some people dress formally and walk. Some people dress uniformally and march.
Thats really the distinction between the “politicians” and “the politicians plus”.
It doesnt bother me. When I give my second preference vote to Sinn Féin, I know exactly what I am getting. They can’t bluff me.
Indeed I am sorry that CoronaVirus caused me to miss the funeral. I have heard the deceased speak on maybe three occasions, the most recent being an event in respect of the Easter Rising Centenary organised by SF in south east Belfast.
Yet the funeral was an occasion and it was theatre and would have been nice to wander around Andytown, spotting the republican celebs.
People ……some people….are of course ” outraged”. But those people are always outraged.
Really there are two reasons for the usual suspects to express their outrage.
One is that almost daily, Michelle O’Neill is on TV News alongside Arlene Foster telling us to “stay safe, observe social distancin, save the NHS, ” and all that and then showing up at a funeral with quite a lot of other people. Ms O’Neill is convinced that she did nothing wrong.
Her political critics have a point. But they dont seem to get that the images and theatre of this week, emphasising the link between both aspects of the Republican family were much more important to Sinn Féin than the opinions of SFs critics.
The committed republicans and the committed anti-republicans are no surprise.
Much more important is the opinions of those who give Sinn Féin a “X”, a #1 ora #2 at election time. People from Falls Road, Downpatrick, Coalisland, Derry and Irvinestown.
Six weeks ago on the north coast my cousin (86) died. The funeral attended by close family only went straight from her home to the grave yard. A funeral Mass is still to be held. Within two days, my wife’s best friend died and with just 12 people in the church, we watched the Mass on our phones sitting in the car park.
It is unlikely that ALL of the people in attendance at this weeks funeral were as close to the deceased as I was to my cousin or that my wife was to her best friend.
The most de-humanising aspect of Lockdown has been that we cannot attend funerals in a way that our culture and sense of decency demands.
Michelle O’Neill, Martina Anderson and the rest do not owe an apology or explanation to Arlene Foster or any politician or journalist or blogger. It is the ordinary folks who are less forgiving.
Just four or five years ago, I attended an event at a Catholic church in West Belfast where a coterie of “ex prisoners” stood up to say that they were athiests and the Catholic Church (my cousin was the chaplain at Long Kesh) had done nothing for them. Those like me, who are familiar with hypocrisy (Sinn Féins most endearing feature) will be smiling at the notion that many of these same people were almost battering down the door of the church to get inside …to observe rigourous social distancing.
Are Sinn Féins critics in the Blogosphere so removed from reality that they dont know about or understand that the politicians and ex-paramilitaries are bound together in such a way that it makes the whole farce of the Assembly and Executive work.
I am completely indifferent to the Assembly and Executive. I was indifferent to the three years when we had neither an Assembly and Executive. Others agitated that we actually needed it.
Whether we do or whether we dont, its time that SFs critics realised that if they actually want an Assembly or an Executive, this is the only one on offer.