Sinn Féin and the New Legacy of Violence
by Maria Horan
“The [Irish] State acknowledges the right to life of the unborn and, with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother, guarantees in its laws to respect, and, as far as practicable, by its laws to defend and vindicate that right.”
Inserted into the Irish Constitution on the 7th of October 1983.
Voted to be removed on the 25th of May, 2018.
The North is Next
In the midst of the Repeal voters’ shameful behaviour of dancing and getting drunk at Dublin Castle on the 26th of May, two women laughed delightedly for the cameras and waved a torn piece of hand-written cardboard. The women were the leaders of Sinn Féin (Irish for ‘We ourselves’), the only Irish political party that exists on both sides of the border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland. Their names were Mary Lou McDonald, leader of the Southern party and Michelle O’Neill, leader of the Northern party. The cardboard that they both clutched read: “The North is Next”.
In the light of Brexit, it is more important than ever that Irish on both sides of the border work together and forge close alliances. So it would make sense that McDonald and O’Neill would want to work hard to promote peace, tackle the areas of stubborn unemployment and work on abolishing the ‘legacy issues’ that remain after decades of conflict in Northern Ireland, right?
Wrong. On the 26th of May, the only thing that both women were interested in was ensuring that abortion would now be at the top of the social agenda for Northern Ireland.
Both women have only assumed command in Sinn Féin this year – McDonald as Leader and O’Neill as Deputy Leader, so there is a lot for them to live up to. Dublin-born, middle-class, privately educated McDonald who replaced alleged IRA (Irish Republican Army) member Gerry Adams in Sinn Féin leadership earlier this year, could not be more in contrast to the Tyrone-born O’Neill, with her IRA connections: her father was a former IRA prisoner and her cousin is a former IRA member who was shot dead by the British Army SAS in 1997. Though both women have diverse backgrounds, they clearly have become united in their thirst for legal abortion throughout the island of Ireland.
Sinn Féin has always been seen as the “public face” of the IRA and it was always a connection that haunted leaders such as Gerry Adams. Though without a doubt this political party has a blood-soaked past, public attitudes have become more tolerant towards the party and they have gained political seats on both sides of the Border, attracting younger members who have no connection to or memory of the years of conflict known as “the Troubles.” Severing the IRA connections in Sinn Féin has helped create a more socially acceptable party.
However, their militant abortion stance has reinvigorated this political party’s history of bloody violence.
Sinn Féin sees itself as the original Republican party, which supposedly continued the fight for independence after the 1916 Rising. The Proclamation read by Patrick Pearse at the General Post Office to inaugurate the Rising included a commitment to “cherishing all the children of the nation equally.” Too many children have died on both sides of the Irish border. Now that peace is emerging in Ireland for the next generation, it is truly ironic that Sinn Féin wants to replace the old bloodshed with abortion, approving of the former colonisers’ methods of such killing.
And yet the Republic was founded so that Ireland would make her own path into the future, not mimic the ways of Britain. Not only do Sinn Féin members approve of the new killing being introduced into Ireland in lieu of guns and bombs — with the method of abortion legalization as the UK did over 50 years ago, they are happy to do it the British way.
Taking a pro-abortion stance is a bewildering move for any party in Northern Ireland, as people there have always been proudly pro-life. Indeed, it’s been a common ground for people on both sides of the religious divide.
Ian Paisley, loyalist founder of the Free Presbyterian Church of Ulster, once stated to Bernadette Smyth, founder of the Northern Irish pro-life group Precious Life, that he would walk with the Pope to stop abortions. Religion is still widely practised in the North and shops still remain closed on Sundays, with many attending church services. Most people are still educated in faith schools which are very opposed to abortion. So this new attitude makes little sense. Or does it?
Intolerance of “Dissenters”
In recent years, since the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar (which was due to sepsis, not from lack of abortion access), Sinn Féin has become more and more intolerant of its pro-life members, to the point that there is no longer any room for these ‘dissenters.’
Three pro-lifers have made their views public, including Carol Nolan, who was suspended for three months and left the party on the 19th of June to run as an independent TD (Teachta Dála, member of the lower house of the Irish Parliament). In her letter of resignation, she stated that it was unethical to force TDs that are strongly against abortion to vote against their conscience and that there was no longer a place for her in a party that showed no respect for pro-lifers.
The other ‘dissenters’ are Peadar Tóibín, who was also previously suspended and whose future in the party is not yet clear; and Councillor Íde Cussen, whose mother was told by a UK doctor to abort her; her mother rejected this and took her other children back to Ireland, having told Íde’s father (who was still working in the UK) that she wasn’t going back to a country that didn’t respect the unborn. Only time will tell what is the future is for Cussen and Tóibín in a party that has made it explicit it doesn’t tolerate pro-lifers.
Three days before Carol Nolan’s resignation, on the 16th of June, the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis (Irish for political party conference) had overwhelmingly voted against allowing its members to have a conscience vote on abortion. One journalist who attended the event commented on its Stalinist echoes in the way that pro-lifers were prohibited from speaking.
Considering the censorship that Catholics had to endure in Northern Ireland during the Troubles, it seems astounding that Sinn Féin should continue such an oppressive regime, thus repressing the free speech of their own members and forcing the outspoken to conform to “groupthink” or be ejected from the party.
Sinn Féin members see themselves as a “progressive” party, and proponents for a just and equal society on both sides of the Irish border. They are opposed to blood sports and Sinn Fein members responded to the decision to host next year’s Eurovision Song Contest in Israel with condemnations, due to the bloodshed of Palestinians. They are eager to distance themselves from their violent past, but the fact that they can’t see any hypocrisy in their pro-abortion stance is remarkable.
There is much horror and shame on both sides of the border on what went on during Ireland’s fight for independence and the thousands of innocent lives lost. But it now seems that the bombs and guns of a previous generation are about to make way for the abortionist’s tools, to poison, dismember, and dispose of the innocent Irish that have yet to be born.
A number of people “disappeared” during the Troubles, with some victims’ remains never found. And yet ironically, the abortionist will now be legally free to kill and discard all ‘unwanted’ Irish preborn members with the same impunity, disrespect and indifference as displayed during the Troubles, whether the unborn are from the North or South of Ireland, Catholic or Protestant
On the 7th of July, the all-Ireland Rally for Life was celebrated outside Stormont Parliament in Belfast. Now that the Republic had fallen prey to legalised abortion, many Irish on both sides of the border gathered around to support Northern Ireland against all the forces now pushing for abortion there.
In a brilliant re-take of the original “The North is Next” message, the founder of Northern Irish pro-life Precious Life, Bernadette Smyth, and the Republic of Ireland’s the Life Institute, Niamh Uí Bhriain, were photographed standing in a similar pose:
Many in the crowd waved cards with the same message. As Life Institute commented, many were united, from both sides of the Irish border and both traditions, i.e. Catholic and Protestant rallied together. It would appear that the pro-life movement is becoming united across the island of Ireland in a way that may once have been unthinkable.
See a list of more of Maria Horan’s blog posts for the Life Institute.
For more information on the Irish pro-life movement, Maria recommends the Life Institute.