24 September 2005

Rabbitte accuses Sinn Fein of fuelling hostility in North

Irish Independent

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Pat Rabbitte

LABOUR Party leader Pat Rabbitte launched a scathing attack on Sinn Fein last night, accusing its leaders of promoting inter-communal hostility in the North.

He said the party had no real interest in implementing the Good Friday Agreement but was more interested in generating instability and divisions between the two communities.

Mr Rabbitte singled out the Sinn Fein campaign 'Make Partition History', arguing that this was being launched against deepening sectarian divisions and aimless loyalist street violence.

"It is bizarre that the movement that has done most in this country's history to copper-fasten partition should consider itself in any way suited to set about the task of uniting this country," the Labour leader added.

He asked how Sinn Fein, of all people could now remove the bitter and enduring consequences of the IRA's campaign of violence, destruction and division.

Mr Rabbitte questioned why Sinn Fein could not see that the real problems on this island do not derive from the partition between North and South but from the endemic partitions within the North itself.

The Labour leader said Sinn Fein had done nothing to persuade the people of the South that the best solution to Northern Ireland as "a failed political entity" would be to collapse that failed, dysfunctional and still violent entity into the jurisdiction of the Republic.

"If the communities that go to make up the North cannot function together, why in God's name should anyone believe they would function better by attempting to smother them within a largely uninterested Southern embrace?" he asked.

It should be a precondition of any consideration of Irish unity that Northern Ireland should first be a functioning entity.

Sinn Fein, he argued, has shown that it was never all that much concerned about devolved institutions within the North, or about their restoration.

"When the institutions collapsed, it was first to call on both governments to produce their Plan B, the plan being a Sinn Fein-dictated way of running Northern Ireland on a joint authority basis," said the Labour leader.

Mr Rabbitte said the "Plan B campaign" and the campaign to 'Make Partition History' were both calculated to increase the trend towards inter-communal hostility which makes power-sharing within Northern Ireland difficult if not impossible.

Those campaigns, he said, showed that Sinn Fein's real interest was never in bedding down the Good Friday Agreement and working its institutions in good faith.

Instead, Mr Rabbitte claimed that Sinn Fein wanted to create "a persistent atmosphere of crisis, in which normal politics is impossible and extremism thrives".

Brian Dowling
Political Correspondent

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