Now Sinn Fein aspires to be the Victims' Party
Facing investigations of an embarrassing past, Sinn Fein is embracing victimhood, says Ruth Dudley Edwards
Former DPP for England and Wales Keir Starmer will conduct a review of the ‘prosecutorial systems and processes
'Are SF going to admit now there was a forced IRA investigation into my abuse?" tweeted Mairia Cahill on Friday evening. "Or are they going to continue publicly flogging 'the witch'?"
This has been another awful week for Sinn Fein. Newspapers have run all sorts of allegations about IRA sex abusers exiled across the border. In the House of Commons, the DUP's Nigel Dodds demanded of the Northern Ireland Secretary that she provide adequate resources to investigate fully the "continuing scandals involving Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein in relation to cases of sexual abuse, paedophilia, cover up, and the exiling of people from Northern Ireland to the Irish Republic".
He also demanded the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland publish forthwith the findings of the Attorney General's review of a decision not to charge Adams for withholding from the police for nine years information about his brother Liam, even though he knew him to be a child rapist. The Stormont justice committee followed suit. And the Dail debate is to come soon.
Then there was the news that the Northern Ireland Director of Public Prosecutions has appointed Keir Starmer, a former DPP for England and Wales, to conduct the previously announced independent review of the "prosecutorial systems and processes" in relation to the collapsed cases in which Mairia Cahill was to be the main witness. When Starmer reports in the spring, the Cahill affair will be back on the front pages. Starmer is well-respected and fearless, with experience as an adviser to the NI Policing Board. Sinn Fein rejects findings it doesn't like, but it won't be able to represent him as some Tory stooge since he's a member of the Labour Party, which it is snuggling up to. He's also advising Labour on how to protect rape victims and abused children - who "have a pretty awful journey through the court processes" - from being damaged by the justice system.
Mairia's had a double dose of awful journeys, with the illegal IRA judges frightening the wits out of her and the legal system breaking her heart. On top of that, there is her branding by enraged defenders of the IRA and Sinn Fein as deranged, vindictive, mendacious, or whatever takes their fancy.
As Micheal Martin wrote last week, the organisation has a "standard toolkit for how it deals with those who dare to criticise it", particularly whistleblowers, who are defined by senior figures as either "enemies of Sinn Fein's peace strategy" or "personally damaged". Or, as in Mairia's case, both. Then on social media there is "a thorough sustained and vicious repetition of the charges."
Mary Lou McDonald discusses Mairia Cahill case
That he was calling for an "external independent mechanism", akin to that set up for victims of the Roman Catholic Church, to allow victims of IRA and Sinn Fein abuse to be heard have increased the paranoia and the accusations that any politicians sympathetic to Mairia are cynically politicising the issue for reasons of self-interest.
So Enda Kenny's agreement to Adams's request that he meet the four "decent" people she alleges interrogated her in a Kangaroo Court, elicits the tweet: "2night he sez he is calling my bluff & lukin a meeting. Cynical. Spin & news manipulation. Not about dealing with victims. All about smear."
Now Peter Madden of Madden and Finucane (a firm co-founded by the late Pat Finucane, brother of Seamus), who is acting for Seamus and the other three, has advised them to refuse to see the Taoiseach on the grounds that he "set aside the judicial process and ignored the findings of a court of law."
Meanwhile, some rank-and-file Sinn Fein supporters are still busy publicly smearing and abusing the "witch", while the leadership, who are in a funk, employ the preferred mantra: "Yes, she has suffered abuse, but what about us?"
Thus - in the intervals of posting Halloween photographs of his own followers dressing up like him - Gerry Adams was whinging: "Nobody from Sinn Fein on Late Late. Back in the day that required Section 31. Nowadays..."
The Late Late Show, of which he complained, was dominated by musicians, knitters and Brian O'Driscoll. The only politicians were hard-line anti-water charges activists including Paul Murphy and Richard Boyd Barrett.
Having come late and confused to that particular party, Sinn Fein didn't make the cut. Only someone as paranoid as Adams is these days could see that as state censorship.
Martin McGuinness is also doing his bit on the "what-about-us?" front. On Thursday night in Sinn Fein's party room in Stormont, he addressed Relatives for Justice - which An Phoblacht, the party organ, says "campaigns on behalf of families of people killed by the British army, RUC or their loyalist surrogates" - demanding that the British government live up to its responsibilities on dealing with the past.
Here's a suggestion, guys. How about rebranding yourselves Sinn Fein, the Victims' Party.