Another Storey

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.


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5 Responses to Another Storey

  1. Kevin says:

    I did not think it was a good look at all at the funeral.

    My family is from the same part of Belfast as your own; I know a few of them lined the route for Bobby’s funeral and we had a few telling me stories about him too. I get that they felt they had to attend, but to a lot of ordinary folks this was not needed and perhaps rightly seen very poorly.

    I have had great difficulty in criticising anyone for attending a funeral during this emergency. I understand that for some, a loved one has passed and they may be inconsolable etc. I find the tone of many to be beyond the pale when speaking of this or other funerals, and largely an excuse to continue political disagreement after.

    Where there things they could have done to mitigate this whole matter? 100 percent, Wearing face masks, more stewards on the roads etc. But I think they knew that there is little they could’ve done. I also believe that public discourse I have seen from many has been pretty gutter stuff, but unfortunately that is to be expected.

    Michelle O’Neill and Mary Lou should have done better, there organisation should have done better, but like I said above, I am reluctant and feel uneasy criticising anyone in relation to funerals.

    • Theres actually something that has emerged in the last couple of days. Roselawn Crematorium closed early. Staff were sent home. And friends of the family were on the gates of the Cemetry and checking cars coming in. DUP, UUP are pretty outraged. They are presenting it as republicans taking over Roselawn for the duration. SDLP and Alliance are also pretty annoyed.
      Obviously there is an element of point scoring and just having a go at SF. But it is a hard one for SF to defend. They can dismiss it as a storm that will blow over in a week or so. And they are probably right.

      • Kevin says:

        TBH John, I will wait to hear what’s coming out. From afar, seeing the BelTel and NL, together with some fairly swivel eyed blogs going off on one, I will wait for everything to come out.

        I’m not dismissing your point raised, more I will wait to hear everything first.

      • Kevin says:

        Have read up on it John; it would appear more a blunder by BCC than “the army council” taking over the crematorium, no?

      • BCC certainly screwed up. But SF certainly at fault here and they are now pretty sheepish. The feedback they are getting from their own voters is important. I know people around here that would be big SF supporters who are pretty disgusted by it all.
        Nearly everyone I know has missed a wake, a funeral or a hospital visit. In fairness some of this was during April and May and things are a lot better now.
        I dont think SF will lose a single vote as a result. But they were way out of order and they know it.

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