BY MICHAEL PIERSE
As Sinn Féin's growth in the 26 Counties continues, the level of abuse being heaped on the party by elements in the media and other political parties has also increased exponentially.
Take last week. The Evening Herald launched `Part 1' of a series entitled `Sinn Féin - Behind Closed Doors'. The two-page spread (Wednesday 1 November) said that the party's ``veneer of a caring, sharing, green Sinn Féin wears thin under close examination''. Exactly how close that examination was can be gauged from the level of misinformation and fantasy engaged in by correspondent, Damian Corless.
Sinn Féin ``justify republican punishment shootings and beatings on the grounds there's no `acceptable' police force,'' he wrote. ``But who decides what's acceptable?'' Corless did not exert himself by actually asking for the party's policy on this issue, but chose to continue the lazy and jaundiced ranting that characterised his article. ``But Sinn Féin is organised on a 32-county basis so a vote for new, improved, caring Sinn Féin down here remains a vote for a party that equates the crippling act of kneecapping with the administration of justice.''
Corless continued by saying that the same equation is in operation in the 26 Counties, where Sinn Féin, he alleges, use ``the same argument to excuse attacks on suspected drug pushers''. In fact, attacks on those who subject the community to deprivation and death will inevitably occur in a situation of inadequate policing, neglect and poverty. Nobody, however, is claiming that this situation bears any semblance of justice.
Corless, after a tirade of abuse, concluded that Sinn Féin ``cannot be of this State's political system and yet be somehow outside it''. Yes, that would indicate a party that is not prepared to adhere to the establishment system that has allowed for corruption and massive and increasing economic gaps between rich and poor.
In the same vein, Mary Harney apparently `buried Sinn Féin and Labour', according to an absurd Ireland on Sunday front-page headline. The paper's non-story was based on an interview with Harney, who has, apparently, ``refound her feisty fighting spirit''. She gave a ``blunt warning to voters in the Republic that it would be disastrous for the country's current economic prosperity if Sinn Féin were to hold the balance of power after the next general election''.
Po-faced, the paper reported that ``when Harney was in China recently, the first response she got when explaining where Ireland is, was: ``Ooh, IRA violence''.
Responding, Gerry Adams said the PDs are motivated by concern for a rich and privileged elite rather than the community as a whole. ``Mary Harney is jointly in charge of a state with unprecedented wealth from a boomng economy but cannot manage the crises our people have to cope with every day in transport chaos, education, housing and hospital waiting lists.
``At least 170,000 children are today living in poverty. Thousands more are suffering deprivation according to research recently published by Combat Poverty. How will Mary Harney's miracle help these people? She has clearly failed them.''