27 December 2005

Sinn Fein still has a private army, says O’Donoghue

Irish Examiner

By Harry McGee, Political Editor

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A SENIOR Fianna Fáil minister has claimed that Ireland would be a ‘banana republic’ if Sinn Féin was in Government because it still retains a private army.

Minister for Arts, Sports and Tourism John O'Donoghue is the first Fianna Fáil member of Cabinet to state publicly that the IRA still has the status of an army or military force despite the very public standing down of its units and the decommissioning of its entire arsenal.

In an interview with the Irish Examiner, Mr O'Donoghue contends that Sinn Féin can never participate in Government when there is a possibility of republican paramilitaries robbing a bank again. He is also adamant that the IRA is "still there".

The minister's criticisms are the hardest-hitting from a Fianna Fáil Cabinet minister and seem to run counter to comments by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern earlier this autumn. Mr Ahern said the 'standing down' of IRA units and its decommissioning of all weapons had given Sinn Féin the status of a legitimate democratic and constitutional party.

But the Taoiseach firmly ruled out any electoral agreement between his party and Sinn Féin on the grounds of irreconcilable ideological positions on the economy and Europe.

Mr O'Donoghue, however, went further than any of his Cabinet colleagues other than the Progressive Democrats. He based his opposition to entering an agreement with Sinn Féin on their alleged continuing paramilitary connections rather than domestic political considerations.

"The truth is that Sinn Féin has a private army and there can only be one army in the State under the Constitution. You can't have two" he said.

"What kind of a scenario would you have if you were inside in Government with Sinn Féin and all of a sudden the IRA decided they'd rob the Northern Bank again? You would have a banana republic. You could not have that."

When asked whether he believed the IRA had gone out of existence, he said: "No, they are not, you see. They are decommissioned.

"The IRA has not been disbanded. It hasn't. As long as the IRA is there (there will be no arrangement with FF)," he said.

Turning to the point that Northern unionist parties were being asked to share Government with Sinn Féin, he argued it was a vastly different situation and described the Northern state as a "failed entity".

Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris said yesterday that Mr O'Donoghue's views were contrary to what the Taoiseach has said.

"The Taoiseach has said we were the same as any other political party (after the July 28 statement and decommissioning).

"What he is saying is totally and absolutely false and he knows it," he said.

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'hit and run' on your part , Cowardly .
My reply to your last comment :

I know exactly what context means.

Now you do , yes .

The three of us were commenting on
some article concerning people who go round hiding pipe bombs in stores
or bombing public places in general,

If such a conversation DID take place , is'nt it funny how it never bothered you until now ? And you expect me to take your word that such a conversation did occur in the first place? No thanks !

and I said I thought if you were
going to fight a war, you should direct your shit at MILITARY targets so
innocent people don't get hurt.

I presume military targets and economic targets are fair game for both 'sides' in a ny conflict . Has'nt that always been the way ? Are you certain that , for instance , none of the hunger-strikers [one of whom's picture you use as a logo] never targetted economic targets which put innocent people at risk ?

You said you had no problem with pipe
bombs in stores.

If a proper warning is given . But you don't 'remember' me saying that , no doubt . It does not suit your position to 'remember' that .

Perhaps you have thought better of what you said, but
at this point, I could care less.

Perhaps you , yourself , should 'think better' before you send off any more of those poison-filled e-mails . Other recipients might not be as understanding of your position as myself. But I would guess that that has already happened to you . And I could care less .

As for the cats issue, your problem is truly with their irresponsible
owners, bu t I suppose it is much easier to take it out on the animal.

Is it 'responsible' to lock any animal into a house/flat all day ? Is that what those 'irresponsible owners' should do ? Is that what you do ?

And thank you for calling me unclean.
You got off lightly .

Please do not write again - thank you .
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